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Vejhon by Ty Estus Narada
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Remote Viewing
Restricted Area

The Cardships -- Chapter 14

1. "You might want to sit down for this," Alona recommended.  President Aqu'Sha sent his favorite attaché with Bri on this highly sensitive mission.  She was disturbingly beautiful and could melt anyone with her hypnotic eyes and femme fatale demeanor.  Bri could certainly understand why the President enjoyed her so much.

2.  Bri's ship was well inside Cacci Dai space.  Ahead was an array of faultlessly spaced rectangular specks that continued to enlarge until it seemed for certain that the Universe had an end, and they had reached it.  The shellan eye could not fully grasp the immensity of this particular construction site.

3.  "So this is 'off-the-record," Bri whispered amazed.  He had seen it on paper but the real thing was completely unimaginable.  "Off-The-Record" was the code name for a piece of shadow legislation that nobody knew anything about.  It had taken 5 years and 90% of Vejhon's monetary reserves to pay for.

4.  Subject matter experts had been recruited from 12 systems, sworn to secrecy, threatened, and retired to various off-shell locations.  Only four shellans knew this story from start to finish, and they weren't talking.        

5.  False trails had been concocted; every conceivable decoy and a fictitious war was standing by if needed.  The smokescreen would have been detected in the planning stages if Kor hadn't instigated shellwide psionic anxiety.                    

6.  Theos sent a CFA-PFS with Bri to finish signing for the Cardships.  

7.  Four Cacci Dai guidance units took control of Bri's ship to escort it safely to the yard superintendent where Bri was expected to attend a presentation.  It was purely perfunctory on Cacci Dai's part to oblige biological customs and courtesies.             

8.  De'Mandle was wearing a subdued Blue Funnel signet on his lapel that Bri had not noticed earlier.  Bri held his breath as the hair raised on his neck.  "Don't worry," Vicar Wexli calmed him, "That's SGK-113."  Bri coughed in relief.  "Don't asphyxiate either," Wexli suggested.  "That's Theos's shellan?" Bri said as an assertion, psionically.  "No..." Wexli answered psionically, "He's just an extraordinary shellan."  Bri's tummy jiggled but he successfully held back his laughter.  "Does the spider ever get tangled in it's own web?" Bri asked lightly.  "Don't worry about a thing, First Counselor," De'Mandle, answered, "I... am the spider."   Bri turned to Wexli astonished.  Wexli shrugged and said, "I told you he was shellan."  "...and SGK," Bri thought, adding a little kerosine to brighten the fire.    


9. All of the decoys, false leads, erroneous tips, alternate timelines, buck passing and fanciful theatrics worked perfectly... although not perfectly orchestrated:  One simply sets chaos in motion and the rest just 'falls into play...' or 'falls apart,' depending on one's point of view.  The very notion that Vejhon would have loaned money to Theos for anything was outright dismissed, much less 90% of it's entire shell reserve.   That was the easy part:

10. To make Cacci Dai inaccessible, the perennial Badlands-Jolvian dispute over Theotian colonies drifting into Jolvian space, was expanded to infringe upon Cacci Dai too.  The Cacci Dai did not negotiate, like any binary circuit, they either liked you or they didn't, without pretension.  Conscious settled all Theite and Jolvian accounts and ejected their diplomatic corps.  Vejhon's ambassador complained to Conscious about the abrasive treatment of long-standing Cacci Dai allies.

11.  Conscious accused Vejhon of facilitating foreign expansionism into Cacci Dai; she settled all Vejhonian accounts and ejected the Vejhonian diplomatic corps.  With great indignation, Vejhon joined Theos and Jol's trade embargo against Cacci Dai and imposed travel restrictions.  It was all theatre; Conscious was in on it and the media spun it exactly as scripted:  Cacci Dai was off limits to its three closest neighboring systems... the public insisted on it.  

12.  To provide an internal cover, Conscious ordered Cacci Dai to become a biological-free zone to ensure safer beta tests for the 487U upgrades.  That was actually true.  Biologicals found anywhere within the Cacci Dai system would be terminated except for valid expatriates, privately-owned biologicals and political refugees.        

13. To short-circuit the fear of interstellar hostilities, Cacci Dai released a statement to Blue Funnel that interstellar trade would resume after the A-series burn-ins concluded within 5 years, "...chaos must be absent during the evaluation period,"  the statement said. 

14.  The nationalist elements on Vejhon, Theos and Jol spun a conspiracy theory that Cacci Dai had expansionist plans of their own and used the Badlands-Jolvian infringement to prevent foreign industrial espionage.  Now the media was gridlocked in a war over defense spending:  "Is Vejhon getting ready for war?"  "Are the Cacci Dai planning to attack?"  "Who created the machines?"  There was so much disinformation that nobody would ever discover the truth, and the truth had already been dismissed during the first volley.    

15. With the quiet consent of The Psionic Guard Director, Balipor facilitated the nationalist view as a silent partner.  The liberal media, true to form, spun the story so many different ways that it wasn't possible to keep track of every angle.  News shows invited high-profile guests to answer scripted contradictions that spiraled further and further from the truth:  "Unity against what?  War against who?"   And chuckling in a remote cavern somewhere was Kor, who interpreted  the hysteria as the direct result of his orchestrated psionic attacks:  Even though "The Elite" didn't officially exist -- the media was marching lock-step to Kor's strategic drum. 


16. The Cacci Dai escort landed Bri's cruiser on a platform that morphed into a Vice-Presidential colonnade.  The nanites left no detail undone.  "Wow!" Bri said impressed, "They really know how to welcome their guests!"   "You are the first counselor," Alona said, to remind him that he wasn't just an ordinary shellan.  He wasn't ordinary when he was ordinary Bri.  "You sound like holo character," she kept that to herself.       

17. Shellan-like androids lined up along the colonnade to create a path toward the sales dais where Bri would review the superintendent's presentation and take delivery of the Cardships.  There were 50,000 321M's zipping non-stop to finish detailing the last three ships.  Those ships had been moved out of the way.

18. The zero-G environment allowed skyscraper-sized fittings to simply float on-hand until needed for installation.     

19. With sharp precision, the androids lining the colonnade saluted as Bri's entourage passed.  A 321M bowed to Bri and invited him to remain standing while the wine colored, ruby fringed carpet morphed into a sled to take Bri's party on an inspection tour. 

20.  The party felt no inertia as the sled passed through some of the most breathtaking starscapes featuring cardships at various angles and from different vantage points.   An automated narrator described construction details along the way, "The entire keel-to-masthead process required 40 days and 100,000 321Ms to complete." 

21. Unless one understood the Ellipsis, the Caddi Dai value system was unfamiliar:  Biologicals lust for precious metals -- machines lust for chaotic biomass.  While biologicals adorn themselves with gems.  Machines engineer sustainable ecological environments for cellular division.  The Cacci Dai were in Section 8 of the Ellipsis and could tweek biomass at the vacuum level of matter.  The Ellipsis Cycle becomes every machine worlds chronograph with Conscious at its center.   

22. From a Cacci Dai perspective, their id-core relationship to it's three chaotic stellar neighbors was binary Yin-Yang symbolism.  Their enigmatic triune of chaos  was represented by Vejhon, Theos  and Jol:  Cacci Dai even had a namesake element dedicated to each system for metaphysical veneration.         

23. A massive side panel had been removed from one ship so that the sled could trek through an interior course.  The narrator pointed out biometric safeguards and was occasionally defeated by the shock and awe of Bri's party.  "I never, ever imagined that anything like this could be done," Bri said to Alona.  There were seascapes, rivers and lakes; urban areas, forests and artificial mountains that looked unbelievably real.  "The cities were easy," the 321M remarked.

24. "All you have to do is examine a star chart and say 'go here' or 'go there'," the narrator continued.  The visual exhilaration impaired the other senses.

25. A famous Vejhonian monument captivated the spectators and then the monument disappeared to reveal a huge spherical chamber, like a miniature Big Ball.  "This chamber houses the Mother Computer that operates all shipboard functions.  There is another chamber like this on the other end of the ship.  Both spheres redundantly support each other and compose a single consciousness."  The spheres had no access points because biological interference could void Cacci Dai's warranty.  Only if Mother failed, would the hidden access points be revealed.  As the sled drove beyond the holographic emitters, the Vejhonian monument resumed it's former pose.

26. The Cacci Dai subcontracted aesthetic details to fourth and fifth parties that were located even further away than Vejhon, Theos and Jol.  They wanted a chaotic reinterpretation of Vejhonian cultural aesthetics based on selected works from the Library of Vejhon copy, submitted by the Theite contractor.    

27. Bri's party was speechless.

28. The narrative described in-flight capabilities, personnel redistribution and colonization possibilities.  
29. "How long were you planning to be gone?" Wexli asked Bri psionically.            

30. "It could be a while," Bri answered.      

31. "Do you think anyone will want to leave this ship, once they see what's onboard?"  Bri gave Wexli a contemplative look, to suggest that the question could not be answered.  This ship offers a better life than the upper crust enjoys at home.   It was an unconscious thought.  Wexli read it and nodded.   

32. The Cacci Dai did not possess intuitive or psionic abilities.  Instead, they had interpolative processors that were more accurate than intuition.  Biologicals use non-sentient machines as tools:  Machines use photons to transmit consciousness within the visible and invisible light spectrum.  Every machine world reaches a bio-photonic threshold in Section 7 and either survives or annihilates itself as a metaphysical rite-of-passage.  It preserves Ellipsis continuity. 
33. The sled reviewed agrarian areas, college campuses; architectural and engineering development platforms before rising through bulkheads and decks that had been opened specifically for this tour.   The housing areas were a delightful array of prestigious communities and coveted locations that typically only the most affluent shellans could afford at home.  These ships would become their new homes with room to spare.      

34. The sensory overload forced Bri's mind to wander; he remembered the pilot's comment enroute, "The easiest ways to get lost, is to make a wrong turn in the Outlands -- there won't be a proof-positive way to confirm or deny anything."  Bri laughed, which caught Alona's notice because she thought she missed something.  Once Bri's flag passed the Sacred Cloisters, he diverted, unnoticed and untraced to the outskirts of Cacci Dai.  Alona privately rolled her eyes, "You're not even paying attention," she politely commented psionically.  "My head hurts," Bri replied.  "I understand, First Counselor," she sympathized.  She offered him an asprin and an infuser that she kept in her pocket for Aqu'Sha.  "Not that kind of hurt," Bri thanked her kindly.    

35.  Strangely, Theos' precision tracking equipment failed to notice Bri's diversion to Cacci Dai -- the equipment was being upgraded.      

36. "I think we're heading back," Wexli said excitedly.  Inside or outside didn't seem to make any difference because reality had been succinctly upstaged by Cacci Dai technology.  The narrative was still going, "1,500 Cardships end-to-end could encircle most terraformed worlds..."  "Did we even leave home?" Bri asked nobody in particular.  Alona, Wexli and De'Mandle caught what Bri meant:  The entire experience seemed more like a theme park ride than reality.  "Compliments of the entire treasury," De'Mandle offered quietly, feeling compelled to make at least one verbal contribution before the ride ended.  Nobody really knows what goes on inside an SGK's head.   

37. The narrative began a recap, "Each Cardship measures 375 decks in height and are not continuous from end to end to permit internal deviations on a very grand scale.  Of the 980 ships ordered, 977 are fully operational and the remaining 3 ships are in the final stages of detailing; to be delivered tomorrow.     

38. "I think that's the yard superintendent's office ahead," Wexli said.  It's very likely that all of them, except De'Mandle, would have failed an assessment test of what the narrative covered.   Alona might have come in 2nd.   

39. The narrative concluded, "We wish to express our gratitude for trusting us with building your homes away from home.  Please feel free to direct any additional questions to the yard superintendent once we arrive."     

40. Bri nodded respectfully to his 321M host who returned the gesture.   The sled glided into the yard superintendents observation deck and morphed into the floor.  "Look at this," Bri said psionically to Wex, "Carpet."  He twisted his foot so that Wexli would notice.  The morphing technology was clearly unprecedented.  "I don't even think the Cacci Dai can do this," he joked.  It was an inside joke.    

41. They were greeted by a 661C who looked remarkably shellan with glistening skin.  Evidently, there had never been a reason to make perfect copies of shellan bodies.  The 661C actually looked better than most shellans; like a super hero out of a comic book.  The 661C was more fluidic and graceful in his movements.  "I hope you enjoyed your tour," the 661C had a very natural sounding voice that was too pleasant and too perfect to be real. 

42.  "I have never been so impressed," Bri offered, "I completely validate your work."  Bri's use of the word 'validate' was proper Cacci Dai etiquette.  A circular translucent perimeter appeared to shield them from mild yard noise outside in the vacuum of space.  A pleasant oxygen-nitrogen environment had been provided.  Limited quantities of innert gasses were attracted to the abundance of matter outside.  The 661C directed their attention toward the translucent perimeter that now served as a holographic projector.  "These ships represent the form and function of a perfectly planned city, governed by an automated judicial system based on Vejhonian Constitutional Law,"  the projector's voice sounded just like Mother.  "It is an extension of Mother," the 661C clarified.  

43.  Vejhon's Constitution created cosmos from chaos and optimized biological symmetry and cohabitation by Cacci Dai interpretations.  Bri went to Theos to discuss how they were going to make an automated judicial system work.  

44.  "We have also installed hidden treasures to enliven your journey," the 661C said.  It was fairly well known that 'chaos' enjoys surprises, so 'scheduled' sensory treats made sense.  Every part of the the ship was voice interactive.  Even the Atgravs did not require hands-on operation.  Atgravs are 100 passenger transport ships.

45. As the holographic presentation concluded, Bri captured a gleam of light refract across the surface of an anchored Cardship in the far distance.  He felt as if The One was blessing this epochal moment in Vejhonian history and had intended for him to see the refraction.  "The One would love sentient machines too, wouldn't He?" Bri wondered.  Wexli heard it but said nothing.   

46. "I demand an audience with Conscious," Bri said.  It sounded impolite, but demonstrated his knowledge of Cacci Dai customs and courtesies.  Conscious was Cacci Dai's Head of State and not embodied by any particular A.I.  Conscious could be anywhere or nowhere at will, and selected Bri's 661C host to entreat his request.  Bri recognized that the 661C had become Conscious and nodded his head to acknowledge Her presence.  

47. "If any government was going to hypothecate its entire shell reserve to evacuate on one of these," Bri said, "this is money very well spent.  I am completely delighted -- this is most, most excellent!... I validate."  The 661C cocked its head slightly and nodded approvingly -- it appeared to be genuinely animated.         

48.  "Your approval is accepted.  It is our hope that your shell virus consumes itself, and that these vessels will safely contain your memories," Conscious replied.

49. Bri bowed again to Conscious who returned the bow.  Conscious evacuated the 661C.  To have been granted an audience by Conscious was extremely rare.  A machine enemy could have exploited that minor fissure in attentiveness.  "Have you ever seen that before," Bri asked Wexli.  "No," Wexli answered, "That was a first."

50. Having resumed its former self, the 661C explained, "Each Cardship has a passive, statically-generated alpha simulation wave to prevent psionic leakage in or out.  The psionic shield is built into the hull exterior as a physical component and can not be deactivated unless the ship is disabled or destroyed."     

51. "Excellent idea," Bri replied, "You never fail to amaze!"  The 661C continued, "Once the ships manifest are registered, the departure sequence will encrypt and block further biologicals from boarding unless they are descended from Cardship registrants."  Children born in-flight and the children of registered colonists would validate.  A biometric anomaly of any kind would not be allowed to board unless Mother granted an exception.  "I missed the Q and A cue," Wexli confessed quietly.  "So did I," Bri replied.   "Isn't De'Mandle supposed to sign something?" Bri asked.   He had to keep catching himself from calling it 113.  SGK's are regarded as 'things' and prefer it that way.  They use nicknames only amongst themselves.  Bri was thinking about De'Mandel's cover.  "Dean Prophet sent him," Wexli explained.    

52. It was customary to serve refreshments when biologicals assemble, so small table-robots began to circulate with beverages, sandwiches and snacks.  As the party began to assume a less formal tone, a 17-year-old boy ran full speed down the glass-enclosed gangway toward Bri's delegation.  His steps were stealthy, quick and urgent.  Everyone's first thought was, "A Kid?" but no, it couldn't be a Kid.  Bri sensed that the boy was a Cacci Dai citizen who had never traveled outside of Cacci Dai.  Wexli picked up what Bri was sensing.        

53. The boy had a note clinched in his right fist and was attempting to speak to Bri in an unknown language, completely out of breath.  Wexli discovered that the kids mind was organized like a computer, so he seized the opportunity to extrapolate how Cacci Dai cognition translates into gray matter.      

54. The shipyard executives formed a line to protect Bri, then relaxed when they recognized the messenger insignia on the boys collar.  Evidently, the yard did not receive biological messengers very often.  

55. The machines parted, and Bri spread his arms in greeting.  Only then was his cape of office noticeable.  The boy bowed to one knee and offered a handwritten note up to Bri, which he accepted.  Bri felt his attention precognitively drawn to the docking collar as if there was a connection to the note.  Wexli picked up on it. 

56.  The entire delegation, all of them psionists, began to focus on the collar suspecting that part of their sensory perception had been unintentionally cut off.  "Is this dais grounded to the ship's scrambler?" Bri asked his host.  "This dais is grounded to the gangplank, which is grounded to the scrambler," his host replied.   "Can you disconnect it for a moment?" Bri asked. 

57. The machine transmitted a silent message to the locking mechanism and detached the collar coupling from the ship's exterior exit.  The collar retracted until the psionic scrambler lost it's effect.  Everyones communication implants and devices became active.  At close range, the scrambler had distorted all EMF bands.  

57. Bri silenced his PDA and noticed that the boy was awaiting a response.   

58. He helped the boy get up since groveling wasn't customary on Vejhon.  He didn't understand the boy's language so he deciphered psionically in binary symbols, "First Counselor Rain, this is for you."

59. Bri took the note while the boy awaited instructions.  "Do you see the symbols in this kid's head?" Bri asked Wexli psionically.  "Oh, yes," Wexli replied, "and I'll tell you more about it later."  

60.  A wave of dread swept over the delegation as if they already knew what had happened.  The note and his PDA were connected.  

61.  He pressed the message-read button on his PDA and unfolded the note.   Both messages were identical.

62.  He lowered his arms and stared apologetically at the distant ship.  His entourage could see in his face that something dreadful had happened, but nobody wanted  to confirm their worst fear.  Alona slowly took the note and read it out loud: 

"President Aqu'Sha is dead.  Conclude transaction and execute plan."  The memo was signed: "Kile'yn, Psionic Guard Director, Vejhon."  Everyone knew that the word "assassination" had been omitted out of respect for the President.    

64. Alona had been through hell and high water with Aqu'Sha, and in spite of her rigid professionalism, she placed her hand over her mouth and began to cry as quietly as possible.  She couldn't help it.  She handed the note to De'Mandle.  Bri tried his hardest to avoid thinking the one name that could not be associated with him.  "I've got your back," Wexli assured him.  Bri stared in disbelief at the distant Cardship with completely new, and horrified eyes.  

65.  To give his soul some respite, he asked his host, "I would like to buy the messenger so that he may live freely among biologicals."  The 661C seemed to genuinely understand and compassionately replied, "The boy has always been free to leave, but he is happy here because we treat him well."  Wexli added psionically, "The kid was a shipwreck survivor at a young age -- he doesn't know any other life."  Bri patted the boy on the cheek, "You have performed your duty well, thank-you."  The boy didn't move.  "I validate," he amended, never dreaming in a million Dans that he would say that to a biological, seriously.  The boy nodded, turned and walked away at a calmer pace.  "Can he feel?" Bri asked Wexli psionically.  "Oh yes," Wexli replied -- he's happy.  He understood you.  He doesn't want to leave."  

66.  Bri turned to his 661C host and asked, "Is he a..."   "... biological machine?" his host finished.  "Yes," Bri answered.  "No," his host said, "Every unit makes that same inquiry.  He is completely biological, only not as chaotic."  "I understand," Bri said absently.  His mind was wandering out into the yard.   

67. The port side of the Cardship looked like a road traveling to eternity.  15 miles was longer than most cities, but somewhere beyond the vanishing point, the Cardship did have an end.  "Not as chaotic," Bri reflected.  "What a blessing," he sighed.  

68. The President had taken Bri under his wing and held no other mortal in higher esteem.  Since The Psionic Guard Director was God in Bri's esteem, that left the President in the #1 slot where shellans go.  He was starting to feel a quiet rage creep upon him.  This was his second notorious promotion through dishonorable circumstance.  "Life through Light and Death..." Wexli interrupted him psionically, "Beauty and Savagery," Bri finished, and then asked incredulously, "Why are you quoting secret..."  "...society expressions?" Wexli finished.  "To get your mind off of what it's on," Wexli answered.

69.  "I'm giving you high praise to the Director," Bri replied.  He meant well, but the Director already knew how Bri felt about Wexli.  Bri ran the evacuation plan through his mind, overlooking the fact that he had nobody to report to when he returned home.  

70.  The realization cut him to the bone:  "President Aqu' Sha is dead.  ... 'I' ... am now, the President."

71.  With tears still in her eyes, Alona removed the First Counselor signet from Bri's breast and unfastened his cape.  It looked like he was being stripped of his credentials, but in truth, Bri was now the property of the State, and the President doesn't wear special markings:  Vejhonian credentials are issued in the President's name.  Bri was now his own passport and vestige of Vejhon.  With difficulty, Alona said, "He wanted so much to see this in person."  She stepped back respectfully and said, "President” Bri An’Trol Rain."  Everyone in the delegation bowed.   His exit now required a different fanfare than his arrival did. 

72. His Presidential entourage could not decipher if his facial expressions were those of strength or horror.  On Vejhon, the media had already interrupted every program to report the tragedy and The Director issued a statement:  "President Bri has canceled his appointments and is returning home immediately."  Bri would always be affectionately known as Bri no matter what his title was.  

73.  Wexli continued to shield Bri who contemplated the ignoble possibility that his brother, in his morbid way, thought he was doing him a favor. 

74.  "I may need a B'line," Bri said to his pilot.  As an honorary Theotian, he was allowed aboard B'lines.  "It's on the landing pad now," his pilot reported.  It would be impossible to get home any faster without a quantum transporter, and quantum transporters only existed in the imaginations of conspiracy theorists and those who believed that Corlos was real.          

75. Once again, the red carpet morphed into a sled, this time to shuttle Bri and his party to the awaiting saucer.  Bri admired Cacci Dai's morphing technology, "I wish we had these at home."  "Nanites," Wexli said, "Trillions of them."   

76. "We have to begin the evacuations immediately," President Rain ordered.  "Execute Off-The-Record."  

77.  Off-The-Record called for one-third of the fleet to rendezvous at Vejhon, and disburse the population into the other two thirds once they safely cleared the system.  The operation would short-circuit Kor's ambition for a civil war and the imposition of his shell-wide religious oligarchy.  Kor's dream was to force his vanquished foes to patronize his vanity, and Bri was counting on it:  The idea of a shell-wide evacuation was completely off of everyone's radar, especially Kor's.    

78. "We're about to find out, all of those various unknowns," Bri said, to answer everyone's questions.  There are 6 billion inhabitants on Vejhon... how many will be willing to leave without any notice?  "Those who belong to us will leave," Wexli said.  He was very confident.   

79. Two Billion shellans were considered lost to the secret society, which left 4 Billion souls to be rescued.  "We're going to move 4 Billion," Bri recalled, "It looked great on paper and these ships are certainly well worth the money..."  "It's the reality," Alona consoled him, "Don't let the reality fool you."  Bri had listened to Alona speak that way to Aqu'Sha a thousand times and now she was continuing the tradition with him.  It made him feel better. "I guess we know you're the President now," Wexli joked.    

80. "The attrition seems backward," Bri commented.  De'Mandle explained, "Each Cardship can maintain 3.1 million inhabitants long-term or carry 4.75 million passengers under transport conditions."  That wasn't what Bri was alluding to and De'Mandle knew it, "We thought it through, President Rain," De'Mandle condensed it into an allegory, "Look what one person did to 2 Billion shellans."  Bri read the rest out of De'Mandle's mind, "Look what 2 Billion could do to the rest."  One evil shellan can cancer 10 others, and it takes 10 righteous shellans to eliminate the one, heros excepted; 10th Dan semantics:  Evil contracts - Good expands.  Good gives - Evil takes.  "Life itself is a distillation process," he remembered.  "When can I just call you frackin' 113?" Bri asked.  "You're the President," De'Mandle answered, "it was Aqu'Sha who put me under cover.  I'm your Theotian liaison."  "Who's your Theotian handler?" Bri asked.  Wexli laughed, "he's hoping the prefix, 'fracking-113,' will stick."  "Queen Estuses," 113 answered.  Bri gave an incredulous shrug to suggest, "My, my!"  "How the FRACK was this kept secret!" the 661C exclaimed. 
81. Obviously, they had stopped speaking psionically at some point, and everyone stared incredulously at the 661C.  "How do you escape a psionic toxin?" Bri quoted Micha from a previous conversation.  "Or is it some kind of a drug?"  That was a possibility, "Are they being drugged?"  "No, President Bri," Dr. Ai replied, who was aboard the cruiser playing Tantamount with a 321M, and was winning, "Seduced is more accurate which could fall under psychic-psychotropia -- it's completely curable but the patient has to want to be cured.  You probably know how that song goes..."   "Or you could just ask your frackin' host," Alona suggested, nodding politely to the 661C, with whom she agreed completely.  If you ever wanted the entire Universe to know something, just tell the Queen.  Evidently, she had a private side when it came to State security.  "It's all theatre," Alona said softly to the President.

82.  "I do know that tune," Bri mumbled and it led to only one name, "Thank-you Doctor."  He grinned at Alona, appreciative of her wit.  "I want Micha on these trips from now on," Bri said, "Why wasn't he invited?"  "When we left," Alona explained, "You were still the First Counselor and Micha is your friend, not essential personnel."  "I understand," Bri said.  It was also understood that Micha's status had just been elevated by Presidential decree.  "He will be a permanent part of your retinue from now on," Alona assured him, if his High Up agrees." 

83. "I'm sure he will," Bri nudged the Vicar, "Wexli's connected."  No President had been better prepared for the role.  Except for the Psionic Guard Director, who was managing affairs on Vejhon, the remaining power base was either with Bri or aboard Vejhon One.  

84.  The B'line was visibly parked beside Bri's cruiser.  "Is there anything we need to go over before I leave," Bri asked Alona.  He scanned everyone's faces.

85.  "It's all in your head," Alona said, and then she kissed him.  Everyone understood that her femme fatale mannerisms was not intended in an improprietous way.   But she still made people gawk at the strangest of times.  Fracking-113, for instance, dropped a leaf copy from his PDA; he was an incredibly handsome kid himself.  "I think we need to 'breed' some of them," Wexli suggested, serious, but not serious.  "I'll talk to Seven Gates," Bri replied privately. 

86.  113 offered Bri a small cigarette-shaped crystal with gold embedded Cacci Dai script running lengthwise.  "Sales Receipt," he clarified, "This one is yours specifically."  "I was just kidding," Bri said, "about the 'Fracking 113' bit -- you don't really want that as a nickname?" 

87.  "I'm fine with it -- it's different," 113 replied.  "Well, I may not always... use that," Bri replied.  113 was good either way.  Bri waved farewell to his 321M escort and handed the sales receipt to Alona, exactly like Aqa'Sha would have done.  

88. The nanites repeated the colonnade for the last 100 yards as a gesture of farewell.  In the distance, some of the megalithic construction frames were already being dismantled with metal slicing lazer cutters.  The pieces were flung to a receiver in the distance who stored them in a planet-sized warehouse.  The Cacci Dai never failed to amaze; their efficiency was like watching candy in motion.          

89. "I think this is my stop," Bri said.  The B'line dome was deenergized, awaiting his orders.                

90.  The rest of Bri's delegation would return aboard Vejhon One, or rendezvous with a Cardship enroute.  He gave everyone one last review; his face reflected gratitude for their loyalty and devotion to duty, "I'll see you all aboard my Flag." 


91. The saucer extended a narrow gangplank with beveled steps.  The other two pilots remained seated with their visors darkened while the canopy was open.  Bri took the vacant seat and the dome re-energized.  His genetic signature was acquired the moment he sat down.     

92. The Presidential colonnade morphed into a cathedral of light to bid Bri a safe journey.

93.  The saucer drifted to a point clear of matter and streaked away.  Biological eyes would retain a retinal imprint for a few seconds.  

94. "That's leaving in style," Alona said.  "He'll be there before he left," Wexli joked.  "Impressive," 113 conceded.  "Always glad to assist a biological," their host replied.  Machine humor.

95.  "You two should get together," Wexli suggested.  "The Queen?" 113 replied.  "She knows," Wexli explaned, "Why do you think Prophet embedded you there."  "I KNEW it!" 113 exclaimed in a whispered shout, although his assumptions regarding Estuses transparent lust was accurate too.  "But you still performed like a precision instrument," Wexli complimented him, "The President wants you and Alona to get together," he repeated.  Wexli punched 113 in the arm, "...and not just the President, I suspect." 

96.  113 blushed.  Seven Gates would simply have to go along with this one.  

97.  There was an extremely feint distortion in space when anti-matter is released at the vacuum level of matter.  Most saucer sightings are ghosts in the observer's subconscious.       

98.  Underneath the B'line's reflective dome are three seats, back-to-back, at 120 degree angles; the tactical, navigation and pilot stations.  Each station is interchangeable. 

99.  The detection avoidance component of SJ training is typically conducted around less-developed worlds where spectators cannot report discrepancies to SpaceCom.  The 'visible' aspect is almost always a tease.  Instructors guide students through a series of inertially impossible maneuvers to demonstrate manual collision avoidance and to correct for gravity-atmosphere engagements.  It gives the indiginous something to talk about too.          

100.  "Welcome aboard, Mr. President," Em'Jah said.  "My orders are to carry out your orders." 

101.  Bri liked the Theites, they were a different breed, but very likable:  His first claim to fame, after all, was his Theite treaty.  

102.  Em'Jah was an easy read; Bri amended the flight plan, "I need to dock with my flag -- it's in Vejhon's orbit.  I won't be going to the surface."

103. "Understood, Sir," the female pilot confirmed.  She was Vejhonian.  Bri was unaware that the SJ program was a joint operation.

104. "That, Mr. President," she alluded to a Cardship on a monitor, "Is my new assignment."  It happened to be Bri's flag approaching high orbit over Vejhon. "How are we getting visuals so soon?" he asked, "or is that just a projection?"  "It's a quantum drive engine," she answered, "It captures the destination before we get there."  Layered holographic projections surrounded Bri's station with more information than anyone could possibly want.  "Just push those away," Shaneen waved her hand.

105. Bri brushed away the displays with a boyish smile -- he had always wanted to ride in one of these.  "You've been working with the Theites a while," he observed.  "This is the best job in the whole shell!" she answered.  Theites were considered cavalier by a Vejhonian standard, and Vejhonians, although not without humor, were perceived as somewhat stoic by the Theites.   There was a Dan's-old feud regarding which culture came from which; so everyone observed the, "When in Theos..." jurisprudence.  

106. "Well," Bri replied "I'm certain that our ship is in very capable hands."

107. "Oh, it will be," she said, "it's the most coveted assignment in the entire spaceforce."  Occasionally, the line-of-sight of the other two pilots would phase through his canopy as a tri-fold overlay.   It was easy to understand and made sense.  Bri repeated her line introspectively, "...the most coveted assignment..."  This was supposed to be the most highly guarded operation in history, "How could..." he started to ask, and then stopped.   

108.  Bri didn't know that the two cultures had integrated militarily; something that Aqu'Sha must have known, but never mentioned.  "The most sought after assignment?" he echoed as cheerfully as he could.  Theos' spaceforce was famous and far reaching in contrast to Vejhon's token shell defense force.  Vejhon's greatest strategic illusion was the shell legend itself:  Enemies were unwilling to break the egg, so they abandoned pursuit.  "I was reassigned for OJT," she said. 

109.  Bri admired her infectious enthusiasm, "You have a wonderful spirit!" he complimented.  "OJT?" he thought privately.  It made sense; he had always wanted to integrate militarily.  SpaceCom pulled this off without the consent of the Senate or the Proletariat; a black project conceived by Estuses and Aqu'Sha alone.  "Brilliant!" Bri conceded.  

110. "Mr. President," Em'Jah asked, "Is this your first saucer ride?"  Before Bri could answer, Em'Jah added, "Push the red slider forward."  Bri was beside himself!  He had wanted to do this since he was a kid.  There was only one 'red' slider illuminated beneath the console:  He pushed it forward and the stars blurred into a lucid haze.  "We'll be there before we left!" Em'Jah remarked.  "I can now say I've done everything," Bri agreed.  There was not a kid in the Universe who wouldn't sacrifice every toy to do this once.        

111. "That's intercept speed," Em'Jah said.  "The reactor still has a touch more," Shaneen injected, "but we try not to go there."  Within the lucid blur were intermittent streaks of space.  This was a true first for Bri.  "We're both Number Ones" she offered, referring to her male counterpart.  Bri knew Theotian military traditions:  Each class had a 'Number One' and the title stuck throughout the graduate's military career.  They were granted first choice of assignment and rose through the ranks quickly.  Every graduate wore a ring, but Number Ones ruled the ring wearers.  For that reason, XO's were not referred to as Number Ones unless they graduated Number One.  The other branches did not need to follow that tradition and generally avoided SJ watering holes.  Like the Psionic Guard -- the SJ's were always presumed to be in charge.   

112. "I will express my gratitude to Theos for sending only the finest," Bri complimented them.  He was curious about their chain-of-command.  De'Mandle had been an SGK plant with the Queen's blessing.  Being Vejhonian, she read Bri easily, "Theite," she answered.  That was logical.  As Vejhon's Head of State, his compliment would be entered into their permanent military records.   "It was your treaty that opened the door," she added with gratitude.  "A Number One is a Number One," Em'Jah quoted the SJ cliché' energetically.  He fit the stereotype with comic book precision and probably needed a special compartment just for his balls.      

113. "Wanna drive now?" Sheneen offered.  Bri laughed out loud.  This was too much.  Would Aqu'Sha have approved of such frivolity so soon after his morbid assassination?  He could imagine Aqu'Sha replying, "With the weight of all shells placed upon your shoulders... hell yes!"  "Then for you," Bri agreed.

114. "You're the President!" she coaxed.  Bri returned mentally.  "When a Head-of-State's onboard -- He's in command," she said.  "Do it, Mr. President," Em'Jah prodded, "Take over."  Em'Jah had an infections way of prodding shellans to do anything he told them to do, and his testosterone was flooding a very enclosed space.  "Does this thing have any windows?" Bri wondered.  "And she's in here with him."  Theite and Vejhonian DNA was compatible, barely.  He remembered that SpaceCom never deployed a B'line with all three pilots of the same sex per SOP.  He had, after all, virtually married 113 to Alona by Presidential Decree.       

115. The pilot function transferred to Bri's station, and the saucer rotated accordingly.  He was now facing the direction of travel and the holographic instruments confirmed it.  He placed his arm in the yoke holder and did what any kid would do in that situation, "Guards protect us," he whispered, knowing that he could scatter their remains across three stellar systems if he messed up.  The other two laughed.  Theites use technology to read alpha bands and the avionics would protect them.  

116. Em'Jah, carefully articulated a question, "Are you really Vejhonian... or Theite?"   "You're fracking voice!" Bri said out loud, "but he meant it as a compliment, "Are you the son of Azoth or what?"  Privately, he wondered, "What do we need this saucer for?  Why don't we just show up like the Sons of Thunder?"  He dialed it down a notch:

117. "I'm yours," Bri answered, which was a term of endearment on Vejhon and Theos.  By uttering those words he spoke a family bond into existence, and the President's edicts are irrevocable, even by the Psionic Guard Director.  Both pilots knew that.     

118. Bri felt no compulsion to backtrack -- the symbolism was perfect.  "You're both mine," he reaffirmed.  And so it was done.  He had two new family members.  Shaneen was cautiously happy, "I think," she began, "that we'll be banned from dangerous missions now."  "I'll work something out," Bri assured her, "You won't lose your flight status."   Another irrevocable decree by the President of Vejhon.  "I could use Em'Jah as a shield and conquor Theos by myself!" Bri confessed.  He had to be careful not to adopt every pilot he met.  Shaneen sighed, "He has that effect on everyone."   "I bet they don't let him anywhere near her?" Bri was referring to the Queen, who had wanted Bri too at one time.  "Hell no," Em'Jah said, shrugging, "I can't help it."  Bri started laughing.  Poor kid.  There was a ton of innuendo all throughout that dialogue.        

119.  "Message to Kile'yn," Bri said to his PDA.  "BBM2... delete last... BBM1 message received. 327 enroute. Recall PG. Execute E-plan minus 1 hr, 35 min. You are First Counselor until evac complete.  Signed:  Bri An'Trol Rain, President, Vejhon.  Send."  "There!" Bri said to Em'Jah and Shaneen, "That was my first Presidential Order, and you were here to witness it."   "Outrageous!" Em'Jah said as a form of praise in Theotian, "Can you make me a Vicar?" he added.  Bri grinned, "Don't push it."  Shaneen giggled, "Guards E.J.! -- he's already made us family -- what more do you want?"  E.J. wanted her.  Shaneen blushed.  Bri was about to explain that the President only appointed the Director, and the Director appointed the Vicars, but it suddenly made more sense to just keep driving.  "Like it wasn't obvious," Bri kept his laughter to himself, grateful for the comic relief.  "My life will never be dull, now."  As if it had ever been.  E.J. too, would be boarding the Cardship as part of Bri's entourage now.  "I'm keeping this thing," Bri said, "I really like it." 


120. "I know," Kor said with lethargic indifference.  He did not have to qualify his mood or check his behavior -- The Master could say any damn thing he pleased.  He ignored the Elite guard's inquiry until he could unravel what the topside psyos was all about.       

121. "Master?" the Elite Guard ventured, carefully.  It was unlike Kor to be so nonchalant, although he could be unduly petulant at times.  

122. Kor gave the Guard a cold stare, which instantly froze the Guard from further preponderance.  Message understood.  

123. Catching his own insolence, Kor toyed with the Guard for a moment, "Do I detect that you question my ability as your leader?"  The very insinuation was an abuse of power, because Kor knew better.  The Elite had no checks and balances, which left Kor as the uncontested Emperor of his domain. 

124. Kor was genuinely loathsome, but not at the Guard.  So far, nothing had happened that he could not predict with precision.  He had won every contest and parried every move as the playwright of his own production:  He knew every line and scene in the script, "...but now... this curve ball.  From nowhere."  He had to re-think things.       

125. The evidence was beginning to descend from the sky in the form of small transport craft of unknown origin.  How do so many of these things descend from the sky from nowhere?  Shouldn't the defense force at least attempt to respond?  How could anything of this magnitude and scope catch us completely unaware?  Is this an invasion by another shell?   He inquired with his operative in the defense force but the automated systems went off line before his agent could ID the vehicles.  Truth be known:  Atgravs didn't have an ID yet -- this was their first real-shell deployment.

126.  Kor didn't bother to go outside.  He didn't need to.  "It couldn't be my brother... could it?"  The invaders were picking up citizens and taking them back up to orbit; 'to where' and 'to what' was unknown:  It was awfully large, whatever it was.  The swarm of alien transport ships was so thick that indiginous air traffic was grounded.  Kor's shellwide media had prepped the public for a possible Cacci Dai invasion, but these vehicles did not resemble anything that the Cacci Dai would build, thanks to Aqu'Sha's disinformation corps.  The air traffic and space port controllers had been taken first followed by anyone and everyone who knew anything about moving people and objects between point. 

127. Elite operatives all across Vejhon were directing questions to Kor, who was not answering.  The Elite Guard wanted to know why.  "Do you think I'm unable to assimilate all of your thoughts?" Kor rebuked them, "Have you been stripped of your intelligence as well?"

128. The Guard lowered his eyes to concede the matter.

129. "Let them go," Kor shrugged.  Now the Guard was truly puzzled.  The entire Elite was.  The only constant was that Kor was always right.     

130.  As Kor entertained possible explanations for the abductions, he found himself getting angry that Bri might have invented a way to deprive him of the final battle that he so gloriously longed for.  Shellans were making the one choice that Kor never dreamed possible:  They were leaving.  "But to where?"  The Elite didn't have many shellans in orbit and orbiting personnel had been taken first.          

131. Kor chuckled sarcastically while shaking his head as if he could see up into low orbit.  This non-violent 'evacuation' was Bri's way of doing him a favor -- by removing his opposition.  "You arrogant whore," Kor mumbled privately.  The nearby Guard did not dare pry, but Bri, from his flagship, heard it perfectly.  He could isolate Kor's thoughts out of 6 Billion thoughts any time he wanted to, and their mutual effort to directly connect defeated the passive shield. 

132.  Bri smiled back but didn't say a word.  He thought privately, "Who's helping who pretend what?"  Kor thought that murdering Bri would magically hide his personal filth.  Everyone lives in their own mind.  An alligator may not occupy a lot of space in a swimming pool, but you don't find many eager swimmers either.      

133.  No bloodshed.  No unnecessary cost.  Not even a meager inconvenience.  Control of the planet was surrendered and acquired without firing a shot.  Since Kor could not have his war today, he would take credit for running the opposition completely off shell and pursue his war later.  "Just lay low and watch the show," was Kor's only standing order.  He thought divine providence was really looking out for him, "Either way -- we win.  Let them go."  So Mote It Be.          


134. The buzzing around Vejhon's airspace, mountain tops and oceans was orderly at break neck speed.  Atgravs landed on top of buildings and in city streets; at public places, markets and schools.  If such a place existed on Vejhon, and a shellan wanted to leave, an Atgrav landed and evacuated them.  It would be impossible for anyone to be forgotten or left behind.         

135. The Cacci Dai had designed the Atgravs purely for transport purposes.  They were sleek, fast, simple to operate and contained defense capabilities superior to anything Vejhon currently had.   The Cardships were prepared to disable Vejhon's defense grid since Bri knew the override codes, but the codes were unnecessary. 

136.  Kor said, "Let them go."  So Mote It Be.  They were leaving. 

137.  Atgravs piloted themselves, but a biological still sat in the pilot seat to interact with the computer.  He set the Atgrav down in the middle of a street and shellans climbed aboard.  Mother fed a data stream to the Atgravs to extended the psionic shield.     

138.  As shellans crossed the ship's threshold, all of Vejhon's psionic turmoil was left behind.  Many fell asleep for the first time in peace.       

139.  First responders and military personnel were removed, then redeployed to optimize the evacuation process.         

140. Millions of "Leave Me Here or Pick Me Up" transponders were airdropped so that anyone who changed their mind at the last minute could activate a transponder and leave.  Each transponder had two sides:  One side said, "Pick Me Up" and the other side said, "Leave Me Here."  A built-in countdown timer indicated when the evacuation would end.  Once it was over -- it was over.  Finis.         

141. The Director's office played a shell-wide message on continuous loop on every station and frequency:  "Except for personal-affects and those artifacts that can be carried on your person:  Please evacuate immediately.  There is sufficient time remaining."  When the message repeated, the word "sufficient" was replaced with the actual countdown time. 

142.  Citizens had grown so weary of the constant psionic anomalies, that Kor's strategy of erratic psionic attack became a key motivation to leave.  For most the issue was black and white:  Either you wanted to leave or you didn't; you were waving good bye from the boat or from the ground.  Elite sympathizers simply stayed out of the way; "Good Riddance!" 

143.  Even off-shellers and slaves were rescued if they wished to leave. 

144.  Shellans could be located by their communication devices and implants.        

145. The only location that an Atgrav would not visit was inside a cave.   A cave entrance was permissible, but the interior was not.    

146. Not only were caves considered enemy territory, but caves could potentially disrupt the data feed to Mother. 

147.  Because of the superstition surrounding caves, it was believed that law-abiding shellans would not seek refuge in a cave.  The stigma even affected sports enthusiasts who dismissed cave exploration as a rebellious activity.  Geologists sent robots to explore caves and the robots never came back.  Caves defied all rationality and that was exactly what the secret society wanted -- their collection of lost robots was rather steep.           

148. As the spiritual patriarch of Vejhon, The Director chose to be the last Constitutional shellan to leave, while Bri received the evacuees in orbit.      

149. As the remaining shellans evacuated, the Director relocated to the top of the Big Ball where he would wait until the very last second.

150.  An Honor Guard ceremonially folded the State flag for the last time and handed it to the Director for safe keeping.  "One day, either I, or my successor will reinstate this standard," he said. 

151.  The information core of the ball had been retrieved by soldiers and safely stowed aboard the Atgrav.  All of the SGK's were accounted for.  The Ball's system's were turned off for the first time and the keys hidden in the flagstaff's pedestal.  

152. In the space of six hours, 800,000 Atgravs evacuated 3.98 Billion Vejhonians to orbiting Cardships.  There were many Atgravs to spare, but the Mother computers only wanted 800,000 Atgravs operating at any one time.  When one Atgrav returned, another one launched.        

153. The busy sound of Atgrav traffic faded to a few hundred that combed the sky in search of last-minute evacuees.  Occasionally, someone would change their mind and flip a transponder over to, "Pick Me Up."  An Atgrav would land.  A sickeningly sweet psionic fog coated the strata like antacid in a dead person's stomach.  Vejhon no longer had psionic polarity, instead, a single pole saturated the entire shell with no resistance whatsoever.   The calm was disturbing because the catalyst for motion had ceased to exist.   

154. Most shellans who had never experienced a polar alignment, accepted this as a sign that they had made the right decision:  "Kor was right -- the government was deceiving us all along.  Look how much better we feel!"  Even the four winds seemed motionless while the shell became blanketed by an erie haze that dimmed the shell light.  The haze provoked a range of metaphysical sentiments that seemed to compliment the Elite mystique.  Elite members liked it. 

155.  The Director felt a deep sorrow within the shell's soul, "Where are my vibrant, energetic, spirited children going?" she seemed to ask.  He believed that she was aware that two-thirds of her children had abandoned her.  "It isn't a betrayal," he comforted her, "we're trying to save ourselves from this state of perpetual inconsequence that you see all around us.  We can't fight it."  She was not consoled.  "When the disease burns itself out -- we'll come back."      

156.  In the silence that followed, 50 Atgravs continued to scout for any straggler who wished to leave.  The time was ending in a matter of minutes.

157.  In the nick of time, some ran outside shouting, "Save me too!" and they were rescued. 

158.  The countdown read: 00:01:00, then 00:00:59 and counting.  The only Constitutional shellans who remained were the Director, his pilot and staff members. 

159.  He motioned for his staff to board the Atgrav.  The shell was losing its color, like a dying person on their death bed.  A gentle breeze kissed him goodbye.   It was the only breeze that he had felt in over an hour.  He allowed the wind to caress him one last time.          

160.  "Is there just one more soul who wishes to leave?" the Director asked, as if in proxy for the dead.  The timer read 00:00:00.  He scanned the horizon one last time.  The four winds gently picked him up and set him inside the Atgrav as if they understood that he alone, could not reverse the events that had set this plan in motion.  His retinue thought that he had levitated by his own power, so nobody questioned it.     
161.  "Director, the shell has been evacuated," the pilot reported with watery eyes.  His sister and favorite cousin had chose to remain.      

162.  Kyle'yn took his seat and comforted the pilot psionically.  There were at least a million other cases similar to his.  The Atgrav lifted off on a course for Bri's flag in orbit directly overhead.  He saw the fog settle unnaturally across the landscape like sea foam racing across a dry lake bed.  The effect was similar to covering furniture with sheets during extended trips away from home.  The shell itself was preparing for a major paradigm shift.  

163.  Constitutional law died on Vejhon.  The Constitution was in orbit with a copy prominently displayed aboard each ship.       

164. His eyes swept across the clouds convecting along the mountain ranges; the rainforests and seas.  He caught a glimpse of Spearpierce at higher altitude, the curvature of Vejhon and the crescent of nightfall.  They zipped through a shell checkpoint and into the twinkling stars of space.  The Atgrav landed in a hanger bay where shellans were still disbursing and marveling at the immensity of the ship.  They parted to make a path for the Director that ended in a keyhole pattern.  Some felt like refugees more than evacuees. 

165. "If we're the responsible ones," a child asked him, "why did we leave?"  He appreciated her advanced intellect and looked compassionately into her eyes, "Because we are the responsible ones, my child," he answered.  To everyone else he continued, "Universal Law forbids corrupting space with unstable sentients.  That's what gravity is for..." The Director again looked at the child, "...it keeps uncivilized, potentially dangerous and irresponsible cultures grounded until they earn the right to venture outward."  The child smiled and curtsied, and the Director gave her the warm fuzzy she was looking for.  He was pleased that some things had not changed. 

166.  "What are WE going to do?" a Kid Kid asked.  He was light, distructively handsome and his eyes cut through anyone he glanced at.  The Director paused to contemplate something he had not planned for.  "Simulations," he answered, "This ship will have some truly hideous monsters for you to shred to pieces."  The Kid Kid grinned.  There was a girl next to him, about his age, who could hardly breathe.  "You can rip me to pieces," she sighed.  The Kid looked at her and she shrieked.  He held her cheekbone affectionately and etched a psionic proposal onto her heart.  She held his hand.  "You look good together," The Director agreed and then took a breath himself.  The distraction made him feel a little more normal.  

167.  An SGK was about to speak, the Director interrupted, "Mother will challenge you directly."  That was sufficient.  If leaving was the answer, then the right polarity had left.  It was the only answer.  Those who remained on Vejhon would have to live with their choice.   

168.  The Director honed in on Bri's thoughts and found him standing in front of a wall-length window observing Vejhon.  He laid the folded State flag on Bri's desk and joined him in salute at his side.  The room was terraced and dimly lit to showcase the window rather than the interior.  Holograms of Bri and Director were projected on other Cardships, so that the entire evacuated population could see what their leaders were doing before the ships disbursed to undisclosed locations.          

169.  Bri turned to the Director, "I need you to bless me."  The Director was only too happy to oblige, grateful that Vejhon had escaped Kor's oligarchy.  He placed one hand over Bri's heart and his other hand behind Bri's head and transmitted a revitalizing surge of positive energy.  "You are mine," Bri said affectionately.  Kyle'yn chuckled quietly, grateful that someone still had their humor.  The Director is related to everyone by default, "The fleet is in good hands," he assured him, "I'll be in my office if you need me."  Kyle'yn bowed and took his leave confident that the Universe was unfolding as it should.

170.  For some, it would be the last time they witnessed Kyle'yn and Bri together.  But for everyone, the future was still unwritten.