It took me three cycles to reach level seven, and another ten cycles of intense training to advance to level twelve.
At level twelve, there are only two choices.
Become Gen, or die.
Vala says that I’m almost as fast as a Gen already.
But I’m still bound to this world and this flesh.
Now that the birthing is so close, I’m filled with doubts and fears about becoming Gen.
Will I lose myself?
Who will I become?
People say that the Gen reject emotion.
Some say that they don’t feel anything at all.
Is that what waits for me?
A cold and empty life, as an intelligent, energy machine?
Vala isn’t like that.
She and I have been together, in love, for the last ten cycles.
What if Vala is a rare exception?
What if my love vanishes when I become Gen?
Right after our bonding, I asked her about relationships between Gen.
I felt her discomfort, as she pushed away the question without a direct answer.
“Can you imagine staying together for hundreds or thousands of cycles?”
“You’ll see Neebol.”
“You’ll grow bored of me at the end of ten or twenty cycles, when it’s time to become Gen.”
The birthing is tomorrow.
I touch her shoulder gently.
“There’s no more time, Vala.”
“I have to know.”
“Tell me what it feels like to be Gen.”
“Do Gen have emotions as slow ones do?”
“Do Gen bond their lives together?”
“A Gen draws energy directly from her surroundings.”
“She’s unbound by physical form, and bends the world to her will.”
“The feeling of power and freedom is incredible, and addictive”
“Most Gen focus their whole existence on that power and freedom.”
“They want to be free of every burden, every responsibility and connection, anything that challenges their independence.”
“Love, feelings, and relationships become annoyances that connect them to other beings.”
“Is that how you see it, Vala?””
“Connections can be a weight that holds us down, or they can make our world larger, and make us more powerful than we could ever be alone!
“Emotions are shadows of energies far more powerful than you know.”
“People and Gen think that feelings are something inside us.”
“They think that the connection is made up, imaginary.”
“The energies are real, and they can connect us to other beings, or anything in existence.
“Since Gen think that relationships, love, and all feelings are just burdens, most Gen bury their feelings.”
“Those who express emotion are looked at as immature, or deviant.”
“Couples who become Gen together, usually separate within a few cycles.”
“In rare cases,” she says, “Gen do bond together, but they always go off world.”
“What about us, Vala?”
“Do you know,” she says, “that the Gen find me disgusting because I chose this relationship with you?”
“I’m old enough that I don’t care what they think of me.”
She looks at me with her intense eyes.
“What do you want for us, Neebol?”
“I want us to be together,” I say.
“I want to explore the universe with you.”
“You once told me Vala, that you were waiting for something, and when you find it, you’ll be ready to leave this world.”
“What were you waiting for, Vala?”
“I was waiting for someone playful, powerful, and loving.”
“Someone born to learn and explore.”
“Someone not trapped by power and conceit.”
“Someone with a spirit that resonates perfectly with mine.”
“I was waiting for you, Neebol.”
Vala transports us to a cavern, deep underground.
The ceiling is a hundred feet high, and the walls are dotted with a glowing green crystal.
“What is this place, Vala?”
“There are hundreds of birthing caverns like this,” she says.
“They were here waiting for us, long before there were Gen.”
“The green crystal is essential to the birthing.”
“Gen cannot create or transform these crystals, only use their energy.”
For the first time in ten cycles, Vala releases her physical form completely.
She needs to be pure energy to guide me through the birthing.
I direct my energy, so that the energy moves smoothly and quickly through my energy and physical bodies.
Then I spin energy around each of the seven energy wells in my energy body.
The openings to the wells are clear, light and strong.
In the center of the cavern, Vala shapes six clear crystal bowls, nine inches in diameter.
They hover in the air, forming a circle above our heads.
She draws energy from her seven inner energy wells, and weaves the energy into a bright rainbow that covers the bowls.
Our energy bodies expand to fill the cave, covering the bowls and touching the green crystals.
It takes all my strength and attention to keep my energy in this shape.
The cave is filled with light, too bright, even for my energy eyes.
A single tone sounds and the rainbow shatters, forming seven spinning wheels.
Each wheel is a different color, with the green wheel spinning within the circle formed by the other six.
The wheels spin, faster and faster, brighter and brighter.
My energy body is weak and unstable, but Vala holds me together, and her thoughts touch me, promising that all will be well.
The green energy wheel rises out of the circle and explodes, filling the cave with a green light.
The green crystals glow, even brighter than the rest of the cave.
The other six wheels dissolve, each wheel filling one bowl with a thick colored liquid, turning the bowl the color of the wheel.
Red, orange, yellow, blue, indigo, violet.
The bowls still hover in the air, half way up the cavern, but my eyes see a world of energy, hidden beyond each bowl.
The bowls are doors, gateways, openings to great wells of energy.
Vala’s voice sounds in my head.
“Are you ready, Neebol?”
“I’m ready, Vala, but nervous.”
“It will be perfect,” she says.
Vala squeezes my energy body back to its normal shape, and I move my awareness back to my physical body.
I stand on the cavern floor, the circle of bowls spinning above me.
Then I draw energy from the cave into my bones.
Strange that the hardest parts of the physical body are conduits for energy.
To my energy eyes, my bones and skull glow brighter and brighter, like stars.
My physical body has a powerful glow now, visible even to my ordinary eyes.
My heart speeds up, and I melt my physical body into a seventh crystal bowl.
I raise the empty bowl with energy hands, and it finds its place, within the circle of six bowls.
My energy body rises above the circle of bowls.
I release streams of energy, like tiny bolts of lightning, from my energy hands, toward the green crystals that line the cavern.
The streams pull green energy from the crystals, and a rain of energy falls into the empty bowl, filling it with a thick green energy.
My hands glow with a blinding red light as I reach into the red bowl.
I see a great well within the bowl that seems to extend forever.
Yet I reach out, and touch the bottom of the well.
Then I pull my hands from the red well.
They continue to shine a blinding light for a few more seconds, as they fade from red to clear.
I repeat the process with each bowl, bypassing the green bowl that I’ve made.
I finish bathing in the violet bowl, and it’s time.
My whole energy body enters the green bowl, and I fly quickly toward the bottom of the well.
My hands touch bottom, and I melt the last physical remnant of my body, the crystal bowl, into energy.
With the bowl gone, the green liquid begins to vanish.
The way out of the well will soon disappear forever.
I fly as fast as I can toward the top of the well, and burst through the last few drops of green liquid.
Milliseconds later the green liquid is gone.
Weak, I drift toward the ground in my energy form.
I can’t move, and I feel my life fading.
Then, I see Vala glowing like a sun.
She merges her energy body with mine and we share thoughts and feelings and memories.
I have no measure of time, forgetting who is Neebol, and who Vala, wanting this experience to last forever.
Finally it ends, and Vala moves away, leaving some of her energy within me.
I rise up, strong, Gen.
“That was incredible, Vala.”
“How long were we together?”
“About five minutes.”
“Is every birthing so intense?”
“I can’t imagine the other Gen masters sharing themselves like this with their students.”
“Usually the Gen gives a small gift of her energy from a distance, and it’s done without feeling.”
“What I did was join with you.”
“Sometimes Gen join together for pleasure, but they hide as much of themselves as they can.”
“They close off memories and thoughts and feelings.”
“Even then, no Gen holds the joining for more than a minute.”
“The feelings of intimacy disgust them, long before the minute is done.”
“You held the joining for five minutes, Vala, and I felt we could stay together forever.”
“There’s a legend, and I hope with all that I am, that it’s true.”
When a Gen joins with another during the birthing, they will always be together, dancing at the edge of possibility.
They will move their energy in ways that no other Gen can.
I am Gen for a month now.
Vala and I are so happy together as Gen.
What’s it like being Gen?
Like being full of eyes.
Every part of my energy body is sensitive to energy and vibration.
I see and learn in a thousand ways, all the time.
Then, when I focus my attention on something, it’s like a great tunnel opens between me and the thing.
The tunnel seems infinitely long and rich, yet I can see the end clearly.
It reminds me of my experience in the seven wells.
I feel that my eyes are open for the first time, although I have no physical eyes.
I call my old people walkers, for they walk through life, while we run or fly.
Vala finds it funny, but she goes along with it.
I hate the term slow ones, and exile it from my thoughts.
I feel sorry for the walkers, that they live such a small life, in such darkness.
The sorrow I feel nearly crushes me.
Gen emotions are much stronger than what moves through the walkers.
I understand now why Gen bury their emotions.
Vala says that it’s much easier to bury the emotions than control them.
I follow my bondmate, and choose this different path, to embrace all that we are.
A day or two after becoming Gen, the powerful emotions came upon me.
Soon, I will be able to control the intensity, choosing to feel the emotions in their fullness, or not.
Then, I can finally enter the stadium again.