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Vejhon by Ty Estus Narada
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Speechless -- Chapter 7

1.  The world looked so peaceful and serene from above.  But down below was another story.

2.  The angel unfurled it's wings to begin its descent.  The first signs of resistance attacked in the upper atmosphere where fallen light machines struggled to escape their prison.  Those beings were not deliberately attacking the angel, but clawing at the memory of an abandoned potential.

3.  As the angel rocketed through the air in purposeful flight, darker anti-beings waited like vultures to devour a dying child.  The anti-beings were full of conceit and hatred that sucked into the abyss of their spiritual feces.  The result was dread, fear and loathing.

4.  The polar contrast prevented the two from touching, like a flame in the darkness:  Where one is, the other isn't.  

5.  The angel removed itself to a thick forest of dark, scraggly trees, where on a cabin rooftop a young terran is laying on his back staring at the twilight sky.

6.  Gliding across a northern mesa is a species not indigenous to this world, homing in on the teenager's thoughts.

7.  "Shall I intercede?" the angel asks.  "Only observe," a voice replies, "the child is responsible for his own thoughts.  He is attracting this event."

8.   As the alien ship approaches, the teenager contemplates 'fight or flight.'

9.   He thinks he's alone, so he jumps off the roof and is suspended in mid-jump by the visiting species.  

10.  They examine him for two hours and return him to the exact moment of his leap from the roof, so that in his mind -- no time has lapsed.  

11.  The kid doesn't notice at first that it's much darker when he lands on the ground because his mind doesn't accept such things.  It will be months, possibly years before he even remembers the encounter, but the observing angel will remember everything, including what transpired during the examination.  "Thank-you for believing in us," the aliens tell him in a dream, "You had a rock in your aorta -- we dissolved it."  The teenager looks up into the stars and thinks he hears, "...but that's not all we did..."    


12. "There's got to be some way to crack these frackin'... 'shellans'," DeLaney ranted with contempt, "Money rules the Universe!  That's us!  We own it!  All of it!"

13.  "Not with the Psionic Guard in charge," Kid Tholon replied, "and it's been that way for at least a thousand Dans."

14.  "Who is this... 'Kor' character?" DeLaney sneered, while tapping Kor's image on a tablet laying on his desk. 

15.  "Some usurper," Tholon replied, "supposed to be highly talented in the mystical arts." 

16.  "Mystical arts my ass," DeLaney scoffed, then changed his tone surreptitiously, "Enough to rival the Guard?" he asked, a little more focused.  Tholon caged his urge to laugh.   

17.  "He's caught the attention of Seven Gates," Tholon said, "the Kids are watching..."  he stared at Kor's image, "... he's pretty ellusive."

18.  "That might be our angle," DeLaney said, "Does he want to start a revolution?"  "Here we go with financing another shell revolt," Tholon thought privately.

19.  "The Guard isn't talking," Tholon said, which wasn't mysterious, "The savants seem to think that 'revolution' is his goal.  He has a growing fold, and many of them are not very good at guardianship."   DeLaney nodded, "I've heard the Kids are... rather loose on the topic."  "The Kids are Guard dogs," Tholon replied, "They only do what the Guards tell them to."  DeLaney had witnessed what the Kids were capable of.  "They protect you," DeLaney accused him somewhat envious.

20.  DeLaney spun his tablet around so that Tholon could see the bad photo of Kor in his face paint, bow and arrows, "Pretty, young females?" DeLaney roused.  "Shellans are so flippin' weak!"  DeLaney kept that thought to himself but Tholon still read it.  Holostars were big business just about anywhere else.

21.  Tholon spread his hands to suggest, 'probably,' and chuckled under his breath.    

22.  "I wonder if we could arrange a meeting?" DeLaney viewed the Balipor skyline through his window.  A few ideas ran through Tholon's mind.  They were at Blue Funnel's office in the commerce quarter because Blue Funnel was forbidden to operate anywhere else.  "Do you think Kor would come here?" DeLaney asked.

23.  "Unless we go off-shell -- this is the only place where you can hold a meeting," he answered.  He joined DeLaney's review of Balipor, "And even then, nothing drawn up here..." Tholon pointed out the window, "will be enforceable out there."  He picked up a hint of "not necessarily" somewhere in the strata, and cocked his head as if his cranial angle influenced psionic reception.  "I got it," Vicar Hera told him psionically, "Leave the quarter now, and Thank-you for your assistance."


24.  "This is the most grotesque, unheard of thing I have ever seen," Dean Sailin said.  It wasn't meant to be an accusation.  Kid Prophet had a knack for making outlandish predictions that came true, so they called him Prophet, even though his prophecies had nothing to do with religion.  "The entire shell reserve?" Sailin asked incredulously. 

25.  "You've always been right," Sailin said sternly to Prophet, "Do the Guards know about this?" 

26.  "What could they do, if they did?," Prophet answered.  That was the problem.  This was the financial equivalent of Vaprous 3 smashing into Vejhon; a life extinguishing event.  "Where's the money going?" Sailin asked.  "I don't have those details," Prophet answered.  He would have gladly divulged more if he knew. 

27.  "He's very clever," Prophet offered, "He's being managed by nightmares in the background.  Some of the Kids think he's going to take over the entire shell." 

28.  "Well, the Guards must be involved then," Sailin said with certainty.  The Guards and the savants occasionally had overlapping areas of concern.  They could operate in the same arena and never once intersect.  "He wants to control the entire shell?" Sailin contemplated, "How's he going to do that?"  He spoke softer in 'think-tank' mode.  "I can theorize," Prophet offered.  "Please do..." Sailin coddled.

29.  "Kor will plant seeds of dissent that metastasize into a catastrophic reinvention of government," Prophet explained.  "Just like a sci-fi holo," Sailin injected.  "We've got Kids going to their meetings," Prophet continued, "Here's a quote:  'The so-called necessity of friction-induced imbalance is pure rubbish and rooted in fear.'"   "Kor said that?" Sailin interrupted.  "He did," Prophet confirmed.  "Sounds a bit Cacci Daiish," they both thought.   

30.  "The Kids are plants?" Sailin had to verify.  "They volunteered," Prophet answered, "they'll keep their oaths," he reassured him, "but they're damn good at playing the part."  Sailin masked a mischievous chuckle, "That's what we do."  Prophet nodded, no argument there. 

31. About the only thing stronger than Kor was the obsession of his adoring cult followers to worship him.  He attracted followers who didn't care about religion at all.  It would certainly boost his ego to rank two savants among them, and confirm that a chink existed in Seven Gates' umblemished armor.  "You have to watch out for SGK's," Mantra warned him once.  Kor thought Mantra's admonition was overly cautious.  "Who doesn't love a challenge?" Kor replied.  From the savants' perspective, Kor accepted the bait, and the local society chapter accepted them without pretention -- nobody was the wiser.              

32.  "Where is the money going?" Sailin asked again.  Prophet made no reply but had some ideas.  "Is something cataclysmic going to happen?  Is Vaprous going to hit us?" Sailin asked.  Savants are psionic, but known for rigid professional tact.   A slightly less vague thought came to Prophet's mind:

33.  "Somehow or another... we leave," he said with a shrug.  He was as amazed at himself as Sailin was for saying it.  The idea was so preposterous that both of them laughed out loud.  "Did we buy passage from someone... are we buying a rock somewhere:  Where's the money going?  We're talking about the entire shell reserve!"  He spoke in past-tense because Kid Prophet had a track record of being disturbingly accurate.      

34.  "To an apsionic species, possibly," Prophet ventured.  That eliminated a small fraction of the known Universe.        

35.  "To Cacci Dai?" Sailin asked in disbelief, "They don't even use money!"  Lots of species are not psionic, and psionic species can typically read them, but the Cacci Dai network to a completely different drum.  The scenario fit a hypothetical set of deductive tactical equations.  That's how fast a savant's mind can quantify layered information.  Sailin felt a little better; still horrified at the remaining unknowns, but better.        

36.   "I don't know," Prophet suggested with a shrug, "Maybe they'll be doing an expensive upgrade?"  It sounded sarcastic but in their business, the absurd and the plausible are often interchangeable. 

37.  "We have Kids in the exchange program -- I'll ask them to pry a little," Sailin said.  Historically, The Cacci Dai favored SGK's because they learned Cacci Dai customs and technology faster than others.  Prophet nodded and agreed, "Yes, do that," he encouraged him.  Sailin looked away in thought, "That's the golden thread that keeps our society unified," he conceeded psionically, "but this usurper..."  He again made eye contact with Prophet, fearing that spoken words would ruin everything. 

38.  They had a cryptic exchange with their eyes and understood what was better left unsaid.   


39.  Some of the girls shrieked when an unknown shellan barged into their classroom.  He was out of breath, very sweaty and definitely afraid.  He ran to the far corner as if oblivious to the students and nearly broke a window to get it open.  He jumped out and ran away faster than what would seem naturally possible. 

40.  The girls exchanged glances of mutual cautious amusement, "What the hell was that about?"  Some giggled at the spontaneity of it.  The runner was definitely not a student; closer to college age, so it couldn't be one of the boys.  "I thought he was kind of cute!" one girl confessed to her friend.  The feeling was mutual.

41.  Before that moment could cool, the runner's pursuers rushed in, equally invasive but stealthier and more organized.  These were the deadly boys, commonly referred to as "Kids."  These boys were like baby snakes whose venom was many times more lethal than an adult snake.   You could see it in their focus, and nobody wanted to be the object of that focus.  Even to show support, nobody deliberately wore a plain white T-shirt on white shorts with a single black stripe down each side unless they were a bona fide Kid.  Kids served the apprehension function of law enforcement and the will of the Psionic Guard:  When not on duty, they kept to themselves, and were presumed to be in charge anywhere a Psionic Guard wasn't.     

42.  Some of the girls became hot and bothered at the sight of such focused aggression on baby-faced, athletic bodies.  'The untouchable breeders and seeders,' the jealous might say.  To see them in action was like enjoying an anxiety attack.  The Kids pursued the fleeing runner.  The boss Kid entered last.  He paused to survey the classroom and wherever he stared, the chairs slid and parted to create a path.  Seated students enjoyed the ride, even if the ride was stopped by an immovable wall.   Nobody dared to taunt this particular predator. 

43.  "I wish he would frack me," one girl admitted shamelessly.  The Kid approached and pulled her head against his hip, the gesture was sympathetic.  One of the boys said, "I want to be one of you."  The Kid looked at him, "Go to the recruiting station;" his intonation was an unmistakable command.  The boy's face was flushed and confused.  "Right now," the Kid reiterated, "leave it... and go."  He pointed toward the door.  As he got up and went, another boy said, "What about me?"  The Kid pointed at him which abruptly shoved his seat against the wall.  "You're a frack up!" the Kid accused him.  Some of the other guys started laughing.  The Kid held his other arm up.  They stopped. 

44.  The boy wanted to cry in shame.  "You don't give a frack about anything or anyone but yourself!  You're reckless and unfocused..."  The Kid paused for emphasis and approached his rejected petitioner, "You can't hide that forever."  The boy started to cry as quietly as possible.  "You paint," the Kid acknowledged.  His intonation suggested that the petitioner was a pretty good artist.  "Tell you what:  You paint me a picture, and look me up at the barracks.  You pick the subject."  He picked up the boy's chin, "I'll help you."  Then he pulled his head against his hip to help sooth his embarrassment.  The Kids were not as socially polished as the Psionic Guard, but they were line candidates for Guard recruitment once they were old enough. 

45.  At that moment, a Psionic Guard walked in.  Everybody bowed their heads and the Kid bowed to one knee.  They had an abbreviated psionic conversation and then both of them looked out the window.  The Kids had captured their prey.  Every target is given one line when captured, "By the power vested in me by the Psionic Guard, I demand your obedience."  If the target acquiesces, the target is taken into custody and turned over to the proper authorities.  If not...

46.  The Kids ripped the target apart like a pack of hungry wolves enjoying a deer.  Some of the students stared in disbelief while others shook with fear.  It's a lot different in real life than it is on holo.  The Psionic Guard took the entire class under his protection and assured them that the target had just killed an innocent shellan over a trite dispute.  The target chose death now, rather than  death later.  He shielded them from the full brutality of what happened, but made them understand that the victim's family deserved justice.  On apsionic worlds, justice is 'bought-and-paid-for' or sells to the highest bidder:  Not on Vejhon.  Object lesson learned.