I return to Keesha’s ship, and share my memories of the Mayru, growers of stars, children of the star spirits.
“How will they help us defeat the Spiral, ina?” asks Dilasa.
“I don’t know,” I answer, frustrated, “but their destiny is tied up with ours.”
“Let’s look for a vision,” she suggests.
We enter the Dream Hunter gateway together, hunting for a vision about the Mayru.
The wanderer appears before us, seeding Sinesu with his children.
The past is clear, but their future is hidden.
“Why can’t we find their future, ina?” asks Dilasa, as we leave the gateway.
“I can’t explain it.”
I look for answers elsewhere, quieting my thoughts, and asking my inner self how the creatures can help us.
One word rises into my mind, healing, and I feel like I’m falling into a hole, a distant place that I can never escape from.
My thoughts and heart turn toward Gunal, and I’m filled with images and feelings of the time when I restored the ocean and its life.
Will Gunal’s sun help me somehow, as it did then?
I open my eyes to push the thoughts and feelings away, but they return, and become an obsession.
Not long ago, I was filled with an overpowering desire to see my family and return to Siksa.
When I followed that urge, I found weapons against the Spiral, and I met the star spirits.
Is this desire another gift?
Does it push me to a place where I will find help?
“What do we do?” asks Dilasa.
“How do we destroy the Spiral?”
I tell her about the inner voice that speaks of healing, and my thoughts that turn toward Gunal.
“Follow your heart, ina.”
“Let’s go there and see what we find.”
We leave behind Sinesu and the Mayru, and come to Gunal.
I feel comforted when I see the planet and its moons.
I know that I need to be here, but what do I do?
Where exactly do I go?
“Go anywhere,” says Dilasa.
“See what happens!”
I have only known the sea on Gunal, so we begin there.
We swim in the ocean as Fiklow, and visit the crystal forest, where the old queen died.
I join with the Ketkin to see if there are water Mayru who live in them, but there is only the playful awareness of the colorful ones.
“We need to break the mind link, Dilasa.”
“I’m going to use Gen speed to search the planet for signs of fire Mayru.”
“If you’re connected to me, your mind will be overloaded, and torn apart.”
“How long until you come back?” she asks.
“I’ll touch your mind as soon as I’m done.”
I dissolve my physical form, until I am all energy and all eyes.
I move deep within the planet, searching for any sign of fire Mayru.
If they are here, they are well hidden.
I leave the fire, still wondering why I’ve come to Gunal.
What do I need to find here?
An itch begins within the star heart, becomes an ache, and finally, an unbearable burning.
It grows, stronger and stronger, until I can’t think of anything else, and my energy senses are blind.
The only thing I can see is the ekrisa within me, dim and dull.
I try to heal it with the listener, but the pain remains, the dull heart accusing me of an unknown crime.
I strike back at it with light, filling the spinning energy with the Feldin glow.
The ekrisa glows brighter and brighter, until it looks to energy eyes exactly like the heart of a star spirit, bright silver crystal, with specks of gold and deep blue, bursting with light.
At first, the light radiates in all directions, but then it becomes a narrow beam, which leads to a place on the sea floor, seven hundred feet from the crystal forest.
There, I find an energy image of a star heart, pulsing in tune with the ekrisa within me.
I pass through the image, away from the water, until the stone becomes fire.
There, I find a group of fire Mayru, few in number, and weak.
“Do you still work to transform this planet?” I ask them.
“When the sea vanished, our brothers in the water were consumed.”
“We were connected to their thoughts, and most of us died with them.”
“The water returned, but our brothers are gone.”
“There is no hope and no future for us.”
“Do you know how to move the world when it’s ready to become a sun?”
“No, that knowledge was in the water.”
“Who are you?” they ask.
“You know of us, and you carry the bright ekrisa of a wanderer, but there are strange circles of energy in you.”
“I have been to the circle of star spirits, and I was given the gift of the ekrisa.”
“I am not a wanderer, or a star spirit.”
“I live outside the stars.”
“Is there some way that I can help you?”
“There is no help.”
“We are trapped here, until the star dies, and the planet crumbles, but we will be dead long before that.”
“A small group like ours cannot hold our strength.”
“We grow weaker with every cycle of the sun.”
“What if you joined the fire Mayru on another world?”
“The circle of birth is ending, and there are few colonies of Mayru, perhaps no more than us.”
“I have seen others,” I tell them.
“It doesn’t matter.”
“We have no way to find them, or go to them.”
“What about the star spirit who guides your sun?”
“He touches the planet only once in an age, and he’s not a wanderer.”
“How will he carry us to another world?”
The spirit can’t help them, but I can.
I hunt for a gateway that leads to the fire on Sinesu.
Then, I bring the Gunal Mayru to join their brothers, and restore their strength.
I come back to the sea and Dilasa, and swim again in the Fiklow shape.
I hoped that helping the Mayru was the task that haunted my heart, but the thoughts of healing still shout at me.
There’s something more I must do here, but not in the sea.
I feel driven to leave it, so I take Dilasa, and we abandon the water, and return to Jiku form on the land.
The Lonely Desert
The ocean floor was desolate for thousands of years, cursed by the touch of artifact energy.
Now, the artifact hides within Gunal’s sun, and the ocean is, as it was, full of life.
When the destruction came to the ocean, it spared most of the life on land.
Instead, the land died a slow death, as its ecosystems were traumatized by the loss of their ocean.
Eventually, most of the land became desert.
What answers will I find in a desert?
To my surprise I find other Jiku here.
They are scientists, working with the Fiklow to restore a healthy balance of plants and animals on the land.
At first the Jiku won’t speak with me, certain that I will cause trouble for them and their work.
The project is authorized by the Fiklow union, but the presence of the Jiku on the ancient Fiklow homeworld is controversial, and the scientists have been advised not to speak of their activities unless necessary.
Their silence ends when I arrange for Vendik to contact them, and tell them who I am.
“We have heard the stories about you,” they say, “but it’s impossible to believe them.”
“Can anyone alive heal an ocean, and restore in a moment all the life that was here?”
When she speaks of healing, something moves within me.
Is this the healing that I’m here for?
Will this help us battle the Spiral?!
They plan to transport large numbers of plants and animals to Gunal, but they have only a few ships, and few hands to do the work.
It’s an ambitious, long-term plan.
They need years to bring the life here, and decades or centuries of growth after that.
“I need the details of your plans.”
“Do you have a cube with the numbers and types of plants and animals, and what worlds you will bring them from?”
“Yes, but only a small number are ready for transport.”
“There’s little you can do to help us.”
I take the cube and absorb its contents.
“My daughter is an energy binder,” I tell the scientists.
“She can help strengthen the life that you’ve brought here.”
“Can you provide food an shelter for her?”
“Where are you going, ina?” she asks.
“I’m going to transport more plants and animals here.”
“No,” say the other Jiku.
“We need to get the plants established first, before we bring the animals.”
I hear their concern, but still, I discard my body, and disappear from sight.
Gen speed, PathFinder gateways, and flow combine to challenge time, shrink space, and transform the land.
Dilasa and I rise each day, before first light, to greet the sun.
The first morning, when I dance the greeting, my heart well disappears within the ekrisa.
It’s hidden, but I can still feel it.
A few minutes later, it returns.
When I end the dance, a stream of light pours out of my star heart, and rises up until it reaches Gunal’s sun.
Then, a great wave of blue light shines from the sun.
It passes through my star heart, becomes filled with my healing energy, and rolls across the land.
The second day, two of my wells disappear during the dance, and reappear near its end.
Every day the blue wave comes, and brings us strength.
The terrain transforms before our eyes, as life grows and multiplies at an incredible rate.
I need little rest, but I stop every few hours to review what I’ve done with the scientists in charge, and adjust the plan.
They record my work in words and images.
Each day, one more of the wells disappear.
On the seventh day, and each day thereafter, all seven wells disappear when the dance begins, and reappear at its end.
Dilasa stays with the scientists through all of this, helping with the planting, and using her own healing energy to help Gunal’s new life.
Each night, before she sleeps, we spend time together.
“It’s wonderful to heal the land, ina,” she says one night, “but how can we ignore the Spiral for so long?”
“I haven’t forgotten, Dilasa.”
“Everyday, I’m preparing to fight it.”
“I’m learning to hide my energy wells within the ekrisa, so I can pretend to be a star spirit.”
“When will you be ready?”
“Another week or two.”
“Day after day, I find it easier to hide the energy wells, and my obsession with healing fades.”
Two weeks pass before I’m free of the urge, and I can hide my wells without the help of the dance and the sun.
Dilasa and I approach the head of the project.
“We have to go,” I tell Kitsa.
“Come with me for a few minutes,” she says.
“We’ve made a time-lapse presentation of life returning to the land.”
We sit and watch, as forests burst out of the dirt, and herds of animals appear.
Dilasa laughs with delight.
“Will the rest of you leave now?” I ask Kitsa, when the images end.
“The land is rich with life, Yagrin,” says Kitsa, “but there is still more to be done.”
“We’ll stay here for a few years to do whatever we can.”
The Hidden Path
Dilasa and I go for one more walk, barefoot on the hot black sand of Gunal’s beaches.
We come to the end of a half-mile stretch of beach, and stop to sit and listen to the waves.
Small birds run at the edge of the waves, dancing between land and water, loving both.
Other birds fly quietly overhead, enjoying the wind.
I try to pretend that I’m back on Earth, watching the ocean, but my dream lasts for only seconds.
There are too many reminders that this is another world: the moons in the sky, the birds that are so different from earth birds, my darker skin, my strange teeth, and the little girl who sits with me.
Still, the ocean and the waves seem familiar.
I’ve always loved the sea.
It speaks to something deep, old, and powerful within me.
My thoughts float away on the waves, and disappear.
This world is so beautiful.
It’s hard to remember the desolate place that it once was.
“What do we do now?” asks Dilasa, interrupting my thoughts.
I walk closer to the edge of the water, enjoying the feel of the wet sand, and the waves that wash over my feet.
“No more waiting,” I tell her.
“We face the Spiral.”
“We drove it away.”
“It won’t be easy to find,” I admit.
“The Spiral is invisible to energy eyes, and I have only fragments of its memories, not enough to identify the worlds that it still touches.”
“Can you look for the hunters?”
“I’ll start by searching for them, but I can’t connect to the Spiral through the hunters.”
“What I really need to find are flocks or swarms of life that carry the intelligence.”
“That will take forever!”
“I might get lucky, but you’re right.”
“The search could take years, even at Gen speed, and eventually, the Spiral will return here and attack Sinesu.”
“We drove it away before.”
“Last time, the Spiral fought through its hunters.”
“When it comes back, it will attack us with its own strength.”
“Our weapons are too weak and slow to protect us.”
A flock of Heelu rise out of the sea, over the beach, and into the sky, their wet, ribbon bodies sparkling in the sunlight.
I feel sick when I see them.
“What’s wrong, ina?”
“It’s useless to search for the Spiral.”
“You have to, so we can kill it!”
“How will we kill it, Dilasa?”
“What if I find it on a planet a galaxy away, in a place where I can’t bring you.”
“How would you send me the energy you bring down from the sun?”
“Even if we could blast the Spiral with that energy, I don’t think it will help.”
“The Heelu reminded me of the last time that I connected with the intelligence.”
“I could hear its thoughts, but it was galaxies away, unreachable.”
“I felt like I was only touching its outer shell, and we can’t kill it from there.”
“We will kill it,” she says, stubbornly.
“The Fiklow stories say that we will.”
“Maybe we were only meant to drive it away, temporarily.”
“I don’t believe it,” she shouts, only a few inches away, “and you don’t either!”
“Your heart lead us here.”
“Where does it say you should go now?”
Before I have a chance to listen to my inner voice, Dilasa gets angry, and squeezes Sindar’s necklace.
A ray of bright black light pours out of her necklace, and strikes my star heart.
The ekrisa glows brightly, cycling through the seven colors of the energy wells, and then turns a blinding black, before it begins again with red.
“Did I hurt you?” she asks, looking at me with energy eyes.
“What did I do to the ekrisa?”
“You found the answer for me, little one.”
“I have to reach the Spiral’s center, and then attack it with the star energy you attract.”
“How can I help you if you’re far from me?”
“I’m going to bring your healing body with me, hidden in the ekrisa.”
“Is it safe to move the healing body so far away from my fire body?”
“It’s risky, but it’s the only way.”
She releases her listener, and it hovers thirty feet in front of her.
“Call down the sun,” I tell her.
She fingers the necklace and concentrates.
In a few minutes, the strange energy flows from the sun and covers her listener.
“What do you think of when you concentrate?” I ask her.
“What kind of storm?”
“A sunstorm on the surface of the star.”
“Try to gather the energy into your listener, so you can bring it with us.”
She tries, but whenever she gets too much energy into her listener, there is a great pulse of energy which moves skyward.
“Keep the storm going, but move your listener out of the stream of energy.”
When she moves it to the side, I align our healing bodies, pairing up the tiny energy suns that fill the listeners.
We bind the suns together, and move our joined listener back into the sunstorm.
For several minutes the listener absorbs the energy, as though it were an endless space.
When I feel it getting full, I move my seven energy wells toward the star heart, and the ekrisa opens to let them in.
With the wells hidden, our listener becomes more powerful, and we absorb energy for another ten minutes before we feel full.
“No more Dilasa,” I tell her, finally, and move the listener away from the stream of energy.
Before she can respond, I rush our healing body toward the ekrisa.
It closes on the listener, hiding it from the world.
“Can you still hear me, little one?”
“We have the energy we need to fight.”
“Now, I have to find the way.”
“An energy creature once showed me how to find the path that can’t be seen.”
“It’s called the spinning of opposites.”
“This time, I’m going to look for it, within the ekrisa.”
I look with sensitive energy eyes at my seven wells.
Each energy center is bursting with endless spinning lights.
Each light is covered with the color of the well, and is full of endless smaller spinning lights, without end.
I imagine eyes of energy, that cannot be seen, but see all, black, even to the powerful energy senses that I carry.
I focus energy from all seven wells and radiate that energy into the eyes.
Suddenly the world is dark, with glowing bright eyes before me.
I shine brighter light toward these eyes, and the world is bright again, with dark eyes facing me.
I spin the world faster and faster, switching back and forth from eyes of darkness, to eyes of light.
I do this hundreds and thousands of times, with one clear thought:
“I will end the threat of the Spiral.”
The eyes before me are dark and not dark, surrounded with a ring of silver.
The darkness and the light both become blinding, and then my vision clears.
Though the eyes are dark, I can see within them.
There are millions of bright and dark paths, but one calls to me, darker and brighter than the rest.
I try to reach out to it, but my physical body stops me.
I let go of the physical body, and find that the fire body still stands in my way.
Quickly, I dissolve the balance pattern, and stream my fire energy toward the path that waits for me.
“I can’t see outside the ekrisa, ina,” says Dilasa with a mind touch.
“My fire body is gone,” I tell her, “but we are still one listener, bound together inside the ekrisa, and we can speak.”
“I can tell that we’re moving,” she says.
“Where are we going?”
“Stay calm,” I answer.
“I’ve found the path to the Spiral.”
Pillars of Death
We are in an endless space, full of light and darkness, sound and voices.
Bright streaming beings of energy circle all around me in an endless dance.
There is a great, bright pillar of sparkling, colored light that stands in the center of this space, and extends without end, in two directions.
It rests on nothing but its strength.
The pillar is a great storehouse of energy, that feeds the beings here.
Within each being, I see a spiral center.
Are they Mayru?
I feel the image of Nival and his dark eyes, somewhere far away.
He’s not here, but a voice inside me uses his image to get my attention.
I let my thoughts go and listen, until suddenly I know.
I’m inside the Spiral.
How can this beauty bring such destruction?
I must understand them, so I join the dance.
We move and play, and fill this space with song.
I reach out my mind to touch the dancing beings, but there is only dim awareness here, like an animal, or someone who sleeps, caught in a dream.
There are no answers within the dance.
I leave them, and approach the pillar.
The pillar is beautiful, but it fills me with fear.
I feel small and foolish in its presence.
With all the strange places and life that I have seen, how can I pass judgment on the pillar.
Still, there is a wrongness in it, a way that must end.
“I’m about to connect with the Spiral, Dilasa,” I tell her.
“Don’t speak to me, unless its urgent.”
“They might hear you.”
I push aside an inner warning that sends me a feeling of dread, and plunge my fire energy into the pillar.
“Another star spirit joins us?” asks a chorus of voices.
“It’s been so long, and we are always hungry.”
“Will you consume your brother?” I ask them.
“Your strength will become ours, as your mind joins the group mind, no longer alone in this dark place.”
“Then, your energy shell will drift with the others.”
“Do you know what you do among the stars?”
“You kill living beings to feed yourself!”
“They are only ghosts of awareness,” it answers, “with brittle shells and a flash of energy.”
“Let them vanish, and who will notice?”
“The star spirits see it.”
“Your brothers cry for what you have done!”
“We only take what we need to live, unless the ghosts threaten us.”
“How do ghosts threaten you?”
“Sometimes the dark ones learn to damage our hunters, so they must die.”
“Should we wait for them to empty the light from the pillar, and make us vanish forever?”
The pillar pulls at my fire energy, taking it from me.
“The bond between us is weakening,” whispers Dilasa within me.
“We need to attack the Spiral, now, ina.”
“Let me out.”
I try to open the ekrisa, so the listener can release its energy, but the star heart remains closed.
“It won’t open,” I tell her.
I feel my life drifting away, and I move toward death.
“Something is wrong in you,” says the intelligence.
“We join with your energy.”
“This should bind you to us, but it kills you.”
“You are no star spirit,” accuses the mind, with sudden realization.
“What are you, and how do you come to us, here, without star eyes?”
“The spirits gave me the gift of star eyes,” I tell them, as my strength fades.
“They sent me to find you, and break your ways of death.”
The more energy they take from me, the stronger the connection between us.
I fill the intelligence with images of the battle that crushed its hunters.
“I taught the dark ones to fight you,” I tell them, defiantly, “and I will end you.”
“You are nothing,” it says, as it feeds on me.
“You have no strength that can harm us.”
There is no escape.
I don’t have the energy to find a gateway, or even move out of the pillar.
“Your energy is strange,” says the mind, “but it’s small, and we will take it.”
“Then, we will return to your place, and crush the shadows ourself, with no hunters.”
They speak with strength, but I feel fear in their thoughts.
They remember the community of star spirits as a prison.
The spirits left the bright community to be free to explore.
Their old memories are cloudy and twisted, but the mind senses something that it dares not voice.
The spirits have fallen, become weak, and the pillar has become a greater prison.
The Spiral holds desperately to what it is, fearing the loss of the pillar, and the bitter memory of what was.
“We are changed,” it cries to itself, “our old selves forgotten.”
“Erase the bright ghost, and push away the memories of pain..”
I hear all its thoughts, even when it doesn’t speak to me.
It fears my strangeness, and, because of me, it will strike Sinesu, and shatter the planet.
I have no way to warn the Jiku.
Even if they had warning, what could they do?
Their weapons will not stop the Spiral itself.
How do I protect Dilasa, hidden within me?
I can’t shield her for much longer.
Even now, I can barely hide the presence of the listener within me.
I focus on the memories of those who I love.
“I’m sorry Dilasa,” I tell her, “but this was a terrible mistake.”
“My strength is almost gone, and I can’t protect you.”
I wait for death, expecting the world to fade away and wondering why my new daughter is quiet.
My ekrisa grows weak, and then, it’s roughly pushed open.
The sunstorm energy shines through me, striking the pillar like a wave of daggers.
The group spirit cries out in agony.
In its pain, the spirit forgets me.
Some of my strength returns, fed by the sunstorm passing through me, but the pillar still feeds on my fire energy, and I start to weaken again.
“Go now,” says a distant inner voice, “while you still can!”
For a moment, I think it’s Dilasa’s voice, but I feel something foreign in it.
I fly away from the pillar, and follow a trail of dark light toward a gateway.
“Why did you leave, ina,” says Dilasa.
“We have to kill the Spiral.”
“I’m too weak to stay here,” I tell her.
“If we don’t go now, we’ll never get out.”
I don’t remember entering the gateway, but I find myself drifting just above the beach on Gunal.
The listener comes out of the ekrisa and breaks in two.
I feel Dilasa moving away.
She’s trying to speak to me with a mind touch, but she can’t reach me anymore.
I am fire energy, streaming and circling along the web, but my light is dim, and I’m still getting weaker.
My awareness slips away.
Then, I’m at the center of a blinding wave of energy.
It falls from the sky, and passes through me, on the way to the sand.
The sunstorm has returned, and my fire energy drifts within the stream.
My strength begins to come back, and with it, an ache to wear my Jiku body again.
I shape the balance pattern, and the fire body returns.
Then I shape my Jiku body, whole, but barely conscious.
I fall to the sand, exhausted, and the world fades.
When I wake, I see Dilasa sitting next to me.
Her tears cover my face as she holds my hand.
“I’m all right now little one, but the Spiral almost killed me.”
“I couldn’t hear your thoughts, ina, after the listener left the star heart.”
“We came back to Gunal, and then, your fire energy disappeared.”
“I was so worried, but I couldn’t find you.”
“There was a loud stream of sound, like a song.”
“The sun was calling me, and Sindar’s necklace started to glow.”
“I extended my energy toward the sun, and soon the sunstorm returned.”
“I didn’t know where you were, but I reached for you.”
“A mind touch, Dilasa?”
“That doesn’t work outside the ekrisa when my fire body is gone.”
“I felt my heart well connect with you.”
“I couldn’t hear your thoughts, but I felt your presence.”
“Something like a voice spoke within me, and told me to pull your spirit into the stream of energy.”
“After your fire entered the stream, I could see, but you seemed too weak to survive.”
“My healing body flew out of me, and went to help you.”
“The sunstorm came down from the sky and moved through the listener.”
“This softened and sweetened the stream, mixing it with healing energy, before the energy came to you.”
“I knew this would help you if I could keep my listener in the stream.”
“It was too much for me, but I wouldn’t let go.”
“Minutes seemed like days, and then your energy grew brighter.”
“When your body appeared and fell to the ground, my listener returned to me.”
“Then I looked at you, and I thought you were really dead, forever dead, like the rest of us when we die.”
I kiss her head.
“You saved me little one, just as Sindar promised.”
Shining into Battle
Dilasa and I sit aboard Botzar’s ship as it moves toward Sinesu.
“This isn’t your fight,” I tell Botzar, Makish, and B’tzel.
“No one but Dilasa and I can stop the Spiral.”
Makish rises angrily, and brings her face inches from mine.
“Do you think that we’ll hide in space while Jiku wait for death?”
“You can only protect one world at a time.”
“She’s right, Yagrin,” says Botzar.
“We won’t abandon our sisters and brothers.”
“Fine,” I answer, frustrated.
“The Spiral was weakened by our attack, but it’s still strong enough to shatter a planet.”
“Dilasa and I are going to Sinesu.”
“The Spiral plans to strike there first.”
“Choose another world to protect,” I add.
“May the creator help us all.”
I take Dilasa’s hand, open a gateway to Sinesu, and we disappear from the ship.
The gateway leaves us in midair, among strong winds, high above the ocean.
We glide down, and move toward the shore.
“There are fifty Fiklow and Jiku worlds for the Spiral to crush,” I tell Dilasa, when our feet enter the forest.
“Who will save them?”
“We can only protect one world, ina.”
“You agreed with Makish.”
“No, I was silent.”
“There may be a way for us to guard all the worlds, and crush the Spiral.”
I connect to Dilasa with a mind touch.
“You can draw knowledge out of my mind, but can you teach me?”
“Can you show me how you call down the sunstorm?”
I see the memory, the feelings, and the movement of energies within her as she did it.
I feel a strange stirring within me, and then I reach all of myself in two directions at once.
Part of me reaches toward the sun.
While another part reaches toward an area about 50 feet from us.
I feel the energy circling within my heart well, and I imagine that I am the sun.
Two desires fill me.
A bright desire fills me, and I wish to pour out light and feed the whole world around me.
Another desire follows, to blacken and burn the world, and make a storm of blackness that consumes everything.
Dilasa never had such thoughts, but I need them to do what I must do.
They help me to make the connection to the sun and shine with a power that can heal and destroy.
Minutes pass, and the sunstorm comes.
The light pours through me, mixed with a strong bright blackness.
It hurts, and the more I resist, the louder the pain.
Still, it doesn’t weaken me.
I let myself resonate with the light, and be the storm.
Now, I feel it burning bright within me, making me stronger, and the pain is gone.
I practice the calling of the light, and letting go of it, over and over, until I can do it at Gen speed, with and without a physical body.
When the practice is done, I let go of the calling, and the light stops.
I listen to the silence for a few minutes, while my listener brings me the peace of the great web.
My attention turns to the Spiral.
I’m still connected to it, and I hear its thoughts.
It extends throughout space, far from here, but I feel it planning to move its limbs to Fiklow and Jiku worlds, to destroy us.
It abandons the places that feed it, and sends much of its strength here, all because of me.
Deep within, it wonders if I can kill it.
Dilasa is the key.
We need fifty sunstorms, and she will hold them together.
The sunstorms will poison the many limbs that will touch our worlds, leaving the Spiral even weaker than it already is.
Then, we’ll attack the pillar again.
“I feel it coming, little one,” I tell her.
“It will threaten more than one world, but it will strike Sinesu first.”
“How do we stop it, ina?”
“There are only two of us.”
“Call the sunstorm.”
“When you see a gateway open in front of you, send some of the storm’s strength into the opening, and spread the rest across Sinesu.”
“Don’t stop until I tell you.”
I open gateway after gateway, enough to pass between all the Fiklow and Jiku worlds.
On each world except Sinesu, I call the planet’s sun, and shine the energy toward the gateway.
I pass through world after world, again and again, at Gen speed, and hold the calling to all the suns.
I move so quickly that I feel my heart energy making its own web that spreads across many worlds.
In each world my heart resonates with the light of the sun, and the ekrisa burns brightly.
The storm joins together and fills all the worlds, except Sinesu.
The energy of Sinesu’s sun moves through Dilasa, and joins my web of energy and light.
The Spiral comes, and I direct the storm of fifty suns toward the Spiral’s limbs.
It attacks a dozen other worlds, but I’m already there, spreading the bright darkness against it.
It finds the rest of the worlds, but I keep moving among all the worlds, burning the Spiral’s limbs in the bright black fire that hides within the light.
The Spiral sends more of its limbs against us, but they only make the fire burn brighter.
The pillar weakens, barely holding together.
I open a gateway to it, and fill it with the black fire.
The pillar shatters, and the group mind explodes into star spirits.
They are far away from their lives of light, and low on energy.
Each one is barely aware of itself, and nearly helpless.
I hear a great cry that speaks of a lost light that will never return.
I pull the fire away from the gateway, and watch as the spirits drift around the ruins of the pillar like shadows.
Dilasa touches my mind and sees how weak the spirits have become.
“Don’t stop, ina!”
“Send the fire to finish them.”
I reach out to renew the fire, and erase the fragments of the Spiral, but then, I feel compelled to stop.
My listener leaps out of me and hovers before my energy eyes.
Images stream toward me, memories of healing that flood my mind:
the little girl in the marketplace, the Bizra nightmares, Berek’s mother, the rebirth of Gunal’s sea, and the return of life to the land.
What is the listener trying to tell me?
What healing calls on me now, in the middle of the battle with the Spiral?
The images fade, and I see Dilasa waiting for my answer.
“I won’t kill them,” I hear myself saying.
“There’s another way.”