Vala and I hover, waiting, five hundred feet above the stadium, as the gates open.
Another newborn Gen and her master hover near us.
We watch the first rush of walkers, as they pass through the gates to get the best of the unreserved seats.
The arena where the Gen perform is round, a hundred feet across.
An empty space, five feet wide surrounds the arena.
Each row of seats forms its own circle around the performance area, rising, higher and higher, toward the outer walls of the stadium.
The first circle of seats is reserved for the Gen.
The Gen area is protected by eight foot gates, and the second circle begins ten feet above the first.
When the tournament begins, a roof of green stone appears, and covers the first circle, hiding the Gen from walker eyes.
A few minutes before the gates close, the Gen take physical bodies, and enter the stadium.
Newborn Gen enter last of all.
During the performance, we dissolve our physical bodies, and watch the performance with energy senses only.
Gen awareness moves at different speeds, according to our will.
We can touch the world at slow, walker speeds, or thousands of times faster.
This is my first tournament as a Gen.
Vala and I walk the circle of empty space around the arena, followed by the other newborn and her master.
We move as slow as any walker of flesh, according to Gen custom, and the other Gen greet us as we pass.
We sit, and the stone roof covers us.
The oldest of the Gen, Vala, sings an old Gen song.
The other newborn and her master dissolve their physical bodies, and I follow.
Then Vala dissolves her body, and fills the Gen area with light.
The tournament is extraordinary.
There are five parts to a tournament: light, opening, middle, closing, and quiet.
The three judges and many of the performers carry physical bodies, and stay within the arena for the whole performance.
One of the judges launches the tournament.
She throws a large golden sphere a hundred feet in the air.
The sphere bursts apart, and streams of colored light radiate in a hundred directions.
Songs of energy and vibration fill the entire stadium.
Everything moves a thousand times faster than the walkers can follow.
There are two tournaments, two stories, two visions.
One that walkers can see, and another, at the same time, that is only for Gen eyes.
The two move apart, and yet together.
The tournament is a game, and a performance.
It is art, dance, song, and sculpture.
It is all of these, and none.
I’ve been waiting to see this, most of my life, and I’m not disappointed with the wonders that surround me.
It’s hard to believe that Vala and I will perform together in the next tournament.
As the oldest of the newborn Gen, I must lead the opening stage of my next tournament.
The opening is scripted, its moves always the same, except for the ending.
The newborn chooses an experienced player as a partner, usually her master.
Of course I choose Vala.
She’ll design a routine that we’ll follow to complete the opening.
The opening is performed by a team of two, the middle by teams of five, and the closing is performed by one Gen, often the oldest.
Vala usually closes the tournaments, but today, she must stay with me, her newborn.
In the final moments of the closing stage, a judge rises and brings the quiet.
He throws a large silver sphere high in the stadium.
One moment the stadium is full of light and sound.
Then it is suddenly dark, and absolutely quiet.
The judges and the performers dissolve their bodies in the midst of that quiet.
A moment later, ordinary light and sound return, and the roof over the Gen area disappears.
All Gen disappear from the stadium, and the walkers leave.
The next day, we train for the tournament where we will open.
Despite my protests, Vala refuses to design the end of the opening.
“Vala,you’ve performed in thousands of tournaments.”
“I’ll make a fool of us!”
“You won’t,” she says.
“Do what your dreams tell you to do.”
“Be true to your visions, and they won’t fail you.”
“Don’t focus on what other Gen think and say of us.”
“You and I will always be different than them.”
“Don’t we have to be please the council?”
“The council are such hypocrites!”
“They pretend to feel nothing, yet they are filled with pity, shame or hatred when they think of us!”
“Despite their feelings, they won’t deny tradition and refuse you your first opening.”
“Still, they may never let us perform again.”
“Bring all that you are into this one tournament.”
“Make the opening bigger than they can imagine.”
“Pretend it’s not only your last performance, but the last tournament you will ever witness.”
She’s quiet after this, and I suspect she’s hiding some of her thoughts from me.
Vala’s planning something.
Will our performance mark our last day on this world?
Will we seek the towers so soon?
The Gen don’t sleep as people do.
We rest a few hours a day.
Our energy senses narrow, and the world outside becomes quiet.
Energy bodies draw strength from the stars, and refresh themselves.
Some believe we reach deeper than the stars, and farther away, connecting to distant currents of energy and knowledge.
Gen life seems amazing, but Vala tells me it can be much more than I’ve seen.
“We are still shadows, Neebol.”
“Everything has worlds within it, but you have to have courage to push past the surface.”
“When we were physical, we loved colors, but we had to become Gen before we could experience color energy.”
There are energies that correspond to each of the seven colors.
The experience of them enriches our energy eyes, as much as ordinary colors enrich normal sight.
“It’s true, Vala.”
“I never imagined that there was more to color than we could see.”
“There are greater worlds still waiting for us, Neebol, hiding behind everything we see with our energy eyes.”
Gen pretend they are masters of the universe, but even they live in a universe full of mystery, a universe that humbles them.
An infinite web of energy surrounds us.
No Gen can touch its end, or understand all its ways.
A Gen sees the shining web to a great distance, far beyond the sun, but not forever.
The mystery calls to us every day, if we listen.
It stands before us when we enter the energy wells, and when we free the full power of emotions.
When we rest, visions of possibility fill energy eyes.
The visions change and grow, feeding on hidden knowledge.
I see the coming tournament as the ocean touching the shore, a wave of possibility and mystery.
This wave will come, cover all in its path, and shine with us, into the hearts of all at the tournament.
The tournament is tomorrow, and I still haven’t designed the end of the opening.
Still, I’m strangely confident and calm.
“Vala, join with me during resting, and let us dream together.”
She shakes her head.
“Impossible,” she says, “and forbidden, besides.”
“Who knows what will happen?”
“We may go mad, our energies twisted beyond recognition when we separate.”
“We may not be able to separate at all.”
I shake my head, and take her hands.
“Last resting, I saw a vision of you and I, flying among the seven towers.”
“At first we were joined.”
“Then we became two again.”
“If I can find the way to that world, will you come with me?”
“Of course I’ll follow you, Neebol,” she says.
“We’ll rest as you say, but we must hide this joining from the others.”
“I know an old cave, the most ancient of the birthing caves, that isn’t used any more.”
We enter the ancient birthing cave.
Vala tells me that this is the cave used for the birthing of the first Gen.
“You told me that she awoke as a Gen, without a normal birthing.”
“That is the typical legend,” she answers, “but some believe that there was a birthing, different than all the rest.”
“She was transported here while she was full of dreams, waking only after she became Gen.”
“Some say that she awoke for a moment here in the cave, before finding herself floating above ground.
I’ve studied every legend I could find of the first Gen, but I’ve never heard this story.
Vala shares so much of herself with me, but still there are secrets.
“Why do you think that this is the cave?”
“It’s directly below the arch, near the center of the planet.”
“Everything around this cave is molten rock, but somehow this place is shielded from the heat and other forces.”
“No one else knows of this place?”
“No one but me.”
“You can’t see it, even with energy eyes, until your energy body is a few feet away from it.”
“Vala, this looks just like my birthing cave.”
She hesitates for a moment.
“It is,” she admits.
“Why did you perform the birthing here, Vala?”
“Legend says that the first Gen was far more powerful then the Gen who followed her.”
“The energy being who helped her said that this cave should not be used for regular birthings.”
“Yet you brought me here!”
“You’re different Neebol.”
“You carry the whisheeku.”
“You belong here, and won’t abuse your strength.”
“We need that strength to reach the seven towers.”
Vala is quiet after this, and I know she won’t speak anymore today of the cave.”
I form six crystal vessels on the floor of the cave, bound to six of the seven energy wells.
They seem to be filled with thick liquids, red through purple, but the liquids are only energy.
The circle of six has a space in the middle for a green vessel.
The stream of vessels spins, though neither of us is moving the vessels.
“How do they move, Vala?” I ask.
“I don’t know,” she says.
“This cave is full of questions without answers.”
We bring our whole energy bodies into each vessel, dancing together to the rhythms of energy that surround us.
We join together at the bottom of the well, just before we touch bottom.
Two energy bodies rise, joined, shining with color.
We separate just before we leave each well.
When we leave the sixth vessel, it’s time.
We join again.
At the moment of joining, we shape the seventh crystal vessel,
tie our joined energies to the crystal,
and fill it with the green energy of the birthing cave.
We enter the well, still joined, and stop at the bottom, to rest.
How will we enter a resting state within the well’s intense energy?
We spin an energy cocoon around our joined energy body as we lay at the bottom of the well.
The cocoon doesn’t completely block the energy, but it slows the energy, so we can rest and dream.
Our two energy bodies fly together through the energy web, over a great ocean, much larger than the small oceans on our world.
Soon we feel that the ocean is not water, but energy.
We fly for hours, and still we’re in the middle of the energy sea.
Will we fly over this ocean forever?
I stop Vala, and spin energy around each of the energy wells in my body.
She does the same.
Each of us focuses on the energy we call love.
We let it grow and grow within us.
Then it bursts out of us and into the other’s green well.
We feel the energy reach the bottom of the well, and go beyond it.
The energy web is lit up in green across the entire ocean.
We join, and find ourselves on the shore of the ocean, tied to a single physical form, not male or female, but something else.
At first we are too tired to fly, so we walk.
Then our strength returns.
Our energy body releases the physical form, and rises into the air, becoming two again.
Ahead of us, we see the alien from my other visions, wearing black robes.
He has a physical body, but not like our old bodies.
His body is slightly shorter, and his skin is smooth, without golden fur, at least on his face.
Does he have fur on the rest of his body?
We rise above him, and follow as he flies toward the seven towers.
His face is so familiar.
I feel that I should know his name, but I can’t grasp it.
The alien reaches the green tower in the center, and raises his hand.
The door opens an inch and stops.
I try to warn him, and send a picture of fire into his mind.
He turns and sees us.
“Neebol and Vala!” he calls.
Strange that an alien knows us!
Is he the energy being that gave birth to the first Gen?
He pushes the door wide open, fire consumes his body, and the dream ends.
Our rest time is done.
We release the energy cocoon, and leave the well.
Then, we end the joining.
“Did the dream help, Neebol?”
“Do you know how to complete the opening?”
“I know enough,” I say, and explain my plan.
A few hours later we enter the stadium.
We wear physical bodies for the beginning of the performance, and cover them with elaborate gold and silver robes.
In the center of the arena stands a crystal pillar that rises to the dome.
Near this pillar are fourteen small platforms, seven pairs of two, one set of seven on the north side, the other to the south.
Seven pairs, like the seven wells within us, of seven colors.
The platforms are made of crystal, and a crystal vessel rests on each.
The bottom third of the vessels is black, and the top two thirds are the color of the platform that holds it.
The judge launches the golden sphere, and light stage begins.
Vala and I hover in the air, back to back.
The moment that the light spreads to all corners of the stadium, we fly.
The pillar is transparent, invisible, except for a single ray of light that shines from floor to dome.
The platforms hover in the air.
We trace circles around the crystal pillar, in opposite directions, making smaller circles near near the top and bottom of the pillar.
Wherever we fly, we leave behind light.
Soon, a sphere of light surrounds the pillar.
Our physical bodies and their robes dissolve into a colored mist that is carried away by the wind.
Then we make our energy bodies visible, appearing as glowing, living crystal.
The seven energy wells within us become visible to all, spinning, twisting, shining.
We move toward the red platforms and vessels.
When we reach the sphere of light, it shatters into a mist that covers the crowd.
I land on the red platform on the north side of the pillar.
The light from my body’s own red well shines out, forming a curved bridge to the red vessel.
Vala circles the pillar, shrinks, and flies into the red bridge and disappears.
There is a soft spot in the walls of each well, within the vessel, that leads to the other well of the same color.
Vala flies out of the red vessel on her side of the pillar, and grows to her normal size.
Then she shines her energy, and forms a red bridge on her side.
I circle the pillar, fly into her bridge and disappear.
Then, I fly out through the crystal vessel on my side of the pillar.
Vala and I repeat these movements for the Orange, Yellow, Blue, Indigo and Violet platforms, bypassing the Green.
When we finish the movement for the Violet platforms, we are done with the standard part of the opening.
The green vessel burns brightly, and calls to us.
Now, we make this tournament our own.
Vala and I start the crystal pillar spinning, and fill the stadium with energy, emotions, and dreams
We spread a rain of energies through the air, filled with joy, search, possibility, and wonder.
Then we turn toward each other, and feel the full power of the strong web of love that connects us.
We let that energy fill the stadium, connecting every heart that allows it.
The Gen will not let that energy move their spirits, but the walkers will feel the dance!
We move the red platform and vessel from the south, until it meets its twin in the north.
They merge and form one platform, with one crystal vessel.
There’s a burst of color.
The solid world seems to waver for a moment, and the energy web that fills the stadium is lit up in red.
Then we merge the red platform and vessel, leaving a red fire burning in their place.
As the red fire burns, a red fountain bursts out of the stone at ground level, next to the pillar.
The fountain rises up to the dome, then falls, as a red rain, landing in a circle around the fountain.
Tiny streams form, and feed the fountain.
We repeat our actions with five other pairs of platforms, and the other colored fountains form.
Six fountains now form a complete circle around the crystal pillar.
Each fountain has its own song, and the six songs come together like an orchestra.
Vala and I fly to the first fountain.
We hover on two opposite sides of the fountain, 100 feet up.
Each of us reaches toward the ground.
A swarm of long, crystal staffs rise from the ground, their intricate designs glowing and changing.
Each crystal staff is the color of the fountain.
Fifty feet up, the staffs begin to spin and melt into each other.
A red crystal tower takes shape around and above the red fountain.
Then Vala and I move to the next fountain, and raise five more towers.
Only the green is missing.
We fly to the green platforms, standing on opposite sides of the pillar.
Green light rises from our two wells and joins in a bridge that goes straight through the pillar.
The two green platforms and crystal vessels merge together.
In a moment we disappear, leaving only the bridge, which shatters a moment later, like thin glass.
The bits of green crystal turn into drops like rain, and fall to the ground.
Green crystal staffs rise up and build a crystal tower around the pillar.
A large, green fountain forms at its base, and the fountain rises through the entire pillar.
Within the well, Vala and I join, and I bring us to the bottom of the well.
World Without Stars
In the stadium, the image of what we’re doing is displayed in the green fountain.
The bottom of the well is soft when we touch it in our joined form.
Our hands pass through toward the unknown.
We fly through the bottom of the well, still holding a small connection to the well, and keeping it open.
We travel through a large spinning tunnel, surrounded by stars, broadcasting the energy of connection outward.
The tunnel and stars are lit with green energy.
We reach for the other end, and we are there.
Then we pass through the end of this tunnel, again holding it open.
The long connection with our old world is difficult to hold.
It’s time to let go.
Crystal staffs fly upward in the arena, from each tower toward the dome, and the towers fade toward the ground.
Each staff strikes the dome above.
Melting, it ignites a shower of beautiful, colored crystals.
Six of the towers fade away toward the ground.
When the towers are gone, their fountains disappear.
The green fountain grows larger, and its energy falls on the crowd in a green, energy rain.
Then the green tower is consumed by the fountain.
The fountain itself, fades away, and the way back to the stadium closes forever.
Our images shine on the dome of the stadium one last time before the way closes.
Our joined body becomes two again.
Vala and I take physical form, and sit down on a stone path in the new world we’ve reached, holding hands.
The sky is gray, but not with clouds.
We reach with our energy eyes.
Beyond the gray is an endless energy web, but nothing else.
This is a world without stars, a world apart.
In the distance a black-robed figure approaches.
The world of the seven towers stands before us.