“Now, you want to let the Spiral go?!” yells Dilasa.
“It has to die.”
“It’s already dead, Dilasa,” I answer quietly.
“The group mind is shattered, and the energy gone.”
“Only a few spirits remain.”
“I don’t care,” she says.
“Kill them all.”
“The remaining spirits are too weak to join together again, and they’ll never survive on their own.”
“They won’t last long.”
“Thank the creator,” she says, as her breathing slows, and she calms down.
How do I explain to her that their death is no joy, only a tragedy?
They will die, unless I act now.
I send the sunstorms again through the gateway, toward the spirits.
The fire that kills them can also save them.
In the middle of the fire, black and bright, I search for the hidden way, the unexpected way.
I wait for the path unseen.
My healing body leaps out from me with its own will, and into the gateway.
It shapes a large, hollow sphere of healing energy, around the dying star spirits.
My fire body takes hold of the sunstorms, transforming the energy into a rich Feldin glow that pours through the gateway, and fills the sphere.
The star spirits move in circles within the sphere, mesmerized by the glow.
As the sunstorms shine on the glowing sphere, it spins faster, and faster.
A simple, sweet melody begins within me, and pours out through the healing body, mixing with the sphere, and the black fire.
The music grows louder and louder, and weaves the sunstorm into a bright shell that covers the sphere and hides the spirits.
The shell glows, brighter and brighter, until its light can no longer be seen.
A dark shell of energy remains, a cocoon to protect the spirits.
Invisible, except for brief moments, when small flashes of blue lightning appear, with waves of sparkling colors.
Deep within, the spirits are frozen in time.
My healing body returns through the gateway.
The cocoon comes with it, and moves toward Sinesu’s sun.
Dilasa and I let go of the sunstorms, and the world finds an old quiet.
The cocoon erupts with a great blast of energy, directed at the sun, and the star responds with a small wave of energy that targets the sea.
“What have you done with them, ina?” asks Dilasa, when she touches my mind and feels the cocoon.
“Are they dead?”
“No, they are outside of time, trapped between life and death.”
“Why won’t you let them die”
“We’ve stopped them, Dilasa.”
“Now they have another path.”
“What now, ina?”
“A vision to show us what’s next for the spirits.”
Dilasa and I open a Dream Hunter’s gateway, together, as Mayla taught us.
We touch the blue fragments of Sinesu’s universe and others nearby.
The vision opens before us.
Fifty suns play together in an empty universe.
Dilasa and I see ourselves as fire bodes, glowing as brightly as the suns.
We watch the others play, unsure of our role here.
The play seems to go on forever.
“Come play, ina,” says Dilasa at last, and we join them.
We touch each sun once in our play.
With each touch, two balls of soft energy, bright and spinning, erupt from the sun.
The small spheres reshape themselves into spinning stars, and melt into our heart wells.
When all fifty suns have given their gifts, the play stops, and the suns form a circle.
A great energy well, takes shape from the ring of suns
A star spirit rises from the well, and speaks to us.
Its energy is different than the other spirits that I’ve seen — fresh, new, young.
“I hear the spirits from another place.”
“They have given you gifts, and pushed you here.”
“What do we do now?” asks Dilasa.
“Done,” answers the spirit.
“Just stand out of the way.”
“I will shine,” says the spirit.
“Sinesu will end, and fly, a wanderer born.”
“Sorrow for life flashes lost, but star spirits reborn.”
The spirit disappears, and another star spirit comes out of the well, its ekrisa glowing brightly.
The ekrisa within me glows and moves in perfect harmony with the spirit that faces us.
“Well done, brother,” it says, and is gone.
The vision ends.
“What does it mean, ina?”
“I don’t understand all of it, but if I’m right, Dilasa, we have to hurry.”
“In a few hours or days, Sinesu will no longer support life.”
“The cocoon did this with that flash of energy?” asks Dilasa, angrily.
“I can’t explain, yet.”
“I’m going to speak to the Mayru again, to see if I’m right.”
I open a gateway and enter the deep sea as a Ketkin, to touch the mind of the water Mayru.
“Returned,” comes the voice.
“Join us friend, in new life, or go.”
“Only moments until we grow, faster and faster.”
The fire and water Mayru are reconnected, and Sinesu will soon begin a rapid transformation into a star.
I return to Dilasa.
“I was right,” I tell her.
“We have to get all the Jiku off the planet in the next few hours.”
“There are only a dozen ships on Sinesu, ina.”
“Ships are useless for this, Dilasa.”
“I’ll move the Jiku through the gateways.”
“Where will the Jiku go?”
“Their home is on Sinesu.”
“There’s endless open space there for them to settle.”
“The ancient Fiklow homeworld, ina?”
“Even though there are few Fiklow in its ocean, they won’t be happy with a land full of Jiku.”
“It’s the right place, Dilasa, but I’ll need the help of the queen and Vendik to make it work.”
“That all comes later.”
“First I have to move the Jiku.”
“Will there be enough time, ina?”
“If I could use Gen speed, I could save them all, but I have to slow down when I carry living things, or the acceleration will kill them.”
I contact Keesha and Botzar, and the central authority on Sinesu.
“Spread the word to all Jiku and Fiklow ships in range.”
“Save as many Jiku as you can.”
“In a few hours, Sinesu will be a world of fire and death.”
“The Jiku ships can only save a few hundred,” says Keesha, “and most Fiklow ships can’t carry air-breathers.”
“I’ll save as many as I can,” I tell her, “but it won’t be enough.”
No time to explain more.
I take Dilasa back to Gunal.
She tries to protest, but I ignore her.
Then I cast off my physical body.
I’m ready to begin the first transport, when I see a star spirit hovering near me.
A star spirit can’t survive for long in our physical universe, unless it stays within the heart of its sun.
Without a sun, the spirit grows weak.
It must go home, or, like the Spiral, start feeding on living energy.
This spirit has just arrived, and still carries all it strength.
“Hello brother,” it says, and plunges into my fire body, merging its ekrisa with mine.
The spirit is too fast for me to stop it, even if I was strong enough.
Moments pass, with my awareness caught in a fog.
When my thoughts clear, I’m not alone.
“Why have you done this?” I ask.
“Without me, all of Sinesu’s life will die.”
“There is no harm, Yagrin,” it says.
“I’m here to help.”
I look around.
The world has stopped.
Gen speed is nothing compared to this.
“Together, brother, time cannot touch us,” says the spirit.
“See the new world you need to see, and then I will let time return.”
With barely a thought, an immense gateway opens between the two worlds.
I try to move a group of people through it, but without time, nothing moves.
“I can’t move them,” I tell the spirit.
“No,” answers the spirit, “but your will can see them in their new home.”
I imagine them moving through the gateway, but nothing happens.
“They can’t move,” says the spirit, “but you can see them on Gunal.”
“Believe it, and the world will change.”
I’m afraid to experiment with Jiku, so I try it with non-living objects.
I fill my mind with a vivid image of the object on Gunal, but nothing happens.
“It’s not working.”
“You don’t feel it,” answers the spirit.
“See and feel a different Gunal, where the object belongs there.”
I still can’t make it work.
“Use your listener,” says the spirit.
“Feel that Gunal is out of balance without the object.”
“See the object in place on Gunal, and feel the balance restored.”
It takes me a while, but I finally get it.
I practice with a few dozen objects before I try to put a plant into Gunal’s balance.
Finally, I’m ready, and the Jiku with their building and possessions start to appear on Gunal.
Animal, birds, freshwater fish, and plant life are next.
The oceans are already rich on Gunal, but I move a third of Sinesu’s sea life to quiet places in Gunal’s seas.
Finally, I transport the remainder to oceans on other Jiku worlds.
I imagine the terror that the Jiku will feel when their eyes find a new land and a new sky.
Most of Sinesu heard the warning about the planet’s end, and rescue ships approaching, but that warning would never prepare them for this.
I can help in a small way.
I re-imagine all the Jiku on Gunal, in their houses, asleep.
When time returns, they will awake after a few minutes, and walk outside their homes.
Familiar faces will comfort them.
Finally, my work is done, and my fire body tears itself into two parts.
“Goodbye, Yagrin,” shines a distant voice.
The star spirit and its voice are bright within me for a moment, and then the world is quiet.
I am alone, and time takes hold of me again.
The Jiku council wake together in the council building, and find me with them.
I explain quickly, and then transport each council member to the center of the town they represent.
When the other Jiku awake and walk outside, they find the strange sky, flowers on each doorstep, and a note, with Sindar’s symbol.
“As my brother Sindar once brought your ancestors to Sinesu, I, Yagrin have brought you to Gunal.”
“Sinesu was dying, and there was no time for words, only action.”
“You can move to another world if you wish, but if you stay, you will be safe here.”
“Go to the town center and speak to your council representative.”
I contact Vendik and the queen, and tell them what I’ve done.
“It won’t be easy to convince the union,” say Vendik.
“Tell them that you need the Jiku there for about fifty cycles to help stabilize the planet’s life.”
“Is it true?” she asks.
“It might be.”
She laughs, and I laugh with her.
“This won’t be easy,” she says, seriously.
“You’re right,” I agree, “but tell them that Yagrin asked for their help, and remind them that I gave them weapons against the Spiral.”
“I’ll remind them that you drove it away from the union.”
“They are grateful for that, although they fear that it will return.”
“Tell them that I pursued it, and killed it.”
“It will never return.”
“Is this true?”
“You swim in strange waters,” she says, “but I’m glad you also swim with us.”
“The Jiku will be welcome.”
I return to Sinesu as a fire body to watch the transformation.
A few hours after I arrive, seven streams of energy fall from the sun, and pass through the stone, air, and water to touch the core of the planet.
A star gateway opens, and Sinesu is pushed through.
I follow, before the gateway closes, to see the birth of the star.
I come to a corner of the universe, far from any living sun.
This area is rich with dead suns, dark worlds and whirlpools of energy, and Sinesu rests in the middle of this graveyard.
Nothing moves here.
This is a strange place, standing apart from gravity and other laws of physics, a nursery to feed growing suns.
Sinesu transforms as it absorbs the matter and energy that is fed to it.
It takes hours for the transformation to complete.
Another gateway opens, and the new sun moves through the gateway.
I follow again.
“I am Sinetka,” comes a voice that touches my mind.
“Are you the spirit that joined with me?”
“You are Yagrin, like Yagrin, the spirit of Gunal’s sun.”
“Yagrin joined with me?”
“Are you Mayru?”
“There were Mayru of fire and water on Sinesu, but their life is ended.”
“They knew you.”
“Their hearts echo within mine.”
“I am just born, a wanderer.”
Sinesu’s Mayru are gone, fused together into a star spirit.
The spirit is the intelligence that moves this wanderer sun.
It’s clear now.
I see what to do.
I open a gateway and bring the cocoon here.
Then I push it into the core of the wanderer.
The cocoon transforms the energy that touches it, renewing the weak, sleeping spirits within.
Before long, the cocoon has finished its work.
The cocoon cracks and bursts, flooding the sun with a few dozen star spirits.
I enter the sun.
“Who are you?” ask the spirits.
“How are we here?”
“Answer them, Yagrin,” says Sinetka.
“You brought them here.”
“You left the world of star spirits, long ago.”
“Yes,” they agree.
“We came, without suns, to explore.”
“It was forbidden and foolish,” says Sinetka.
“Is it forbidden to learn?” they ask.
“You destroyed,” I say simply.
“We were too proud to go home, and too hungry to think.”
“We remember a dream that brought us low, but little more.”
“The dream is dead,” I tell them.
“With the dream, most of you died, empty and alone.”
“Listen to the new way you are given.”
“You will ride the wanderer, guided by Sinetka.”
“He will travel in the space between the stars, and protect you.”
“Sinetka will stop, far from a star, and wait, as you explore for a star’s day.”
“When you feel weak, return and renew your strength.”
“Are we are banished from the world of spirits?”
“No,” says Sinetka.
“You are welcome there!”
“If you stay in the world of suns to explore, you will ride with me.”
“You must live in the wanderer,” says Sinetka, sharply.
“So says the council of star spirits.”
“So say the spirits,” repeat the riders, accepting this new way.
I am suddenly cast out of the sun, into the quiet, dark space around it.
“We go alone now,” says Sinetka.
“Your way is not with us.”
I watch as the wanderer disappears through another gateway.
I look at the space around me with energy eyes.
The great web is thin here, but it’s still full of energy.
I touch the web with my healing body, and feel the gentle waves of quiet and joy that wash through it, and into me.
There are many universes on the possibility sea with their own form of the Spiral.
Will I spend my days, fighting that sickness, again and again?
Will I conquer it in all worlds, or find a world where it destroys me?
I can’t see my whole path in this moment, but soon I must return to Siksa and my family, and face the Spiral of my universe.
First, I open a gateway, back to Gunal.
Botzar, B’tzel, and Makish are already there.
Dilasa and I join them for a few days, and help the Jiku adjust to their new life on Gunal.
Soon it’s time for us to go home.
Makish kisses Dilasa goodbye and gives me the greeting of palms.
“Let us see only joy together, Yagrin.”
“Where are Botzar and B’tzel?” I ask.
“They will not say goodbye,” she answers, “but they gave me a cube for you.”
Their image appears as she activates the cube.
Botzar stands facing me, his head bowed, with B’tzel behind him.
The long years have brought us together, brother, and will bind us again.
You may wander away, but you cannot leave us for more than a moment.
You think that you are a stranger, with only a few that love you.
All Jiku are your family, your brothers, sisters, and children.
We watch and wait, to welcome you back.
Makish squeezes my hand for a moment when the image fades.
I let go of Gunal for now, as Dilasa and I turn, and pass through the sparkling gateway, toward home.
** End of Book 2: Lives of War **