A New Vision
I have no flesh, but I still taste the sweet light of the sun.
The sun’s energy fills me with great waves of color, and the rhythms of the energy’s ebb and flow come to me as music.
The sparks of my strength rise into a great fire, and the Feldin glow grows brighter and brighter, until the last of the energy venom burns away.
The Heelu bathe in my glow, their bodies dancing in the air.
Bursts of color stream between us, and the Heelu shine.
An image calls to me.
An endless space filled with living things and light, with the Heelu at its center.
I watch, as energy dances around life, and feeds it.
Every living thing has an energy body that shadows the physical body, and echoes its shape.
The pattern body expands and contracts as it breathes in the energy of the web that surrounds us.
The energy of the pattern body scatters at death, but some beings reach beyond death with a fire body.
This fire shines in three shapes: egg, sphere, or torus.
Jiku, Bizra, and even the Fiklow have egg-shaped fire bodies.
I’ve looked at Heelu energy before, and seen that it’s bound in a ribbon-shaped pattern body, with no fire body.
It’s different today.
As the Heelu bathe in the glow, each Heelu has a faint, strange fire body
There, and not there, like a shadow or reflection.
I see great spinning disks, joined to each other with long streams of bright energy.
Each flock forms its own energy web, with one fire body in the flock glowing brighter than the rest, binding them all together.
After a minute, the bright one rests and another takes its place, until each fire body in the flock has its turn.
The venom within me is gone, but it changed me.
My energy feels different, and my vision stronger.
Is this the same energy web?
It glows around me, brighter than before, more complex and mysterious, full of whispers and dreams.
My energy eyes are filled with new color, small movements, and endless detail that wasn’t there before.
The web is motion and light, now filled with tiny spinning wheels of energy and color.
A voice within me whispers that each wheel is a gateway to a distant place.
I touch the gateways with the listener, and my energy eyes are far away.
Sometimes still on Sinesu, but years in the past or future.
And sometimes, I walk or fly on other worlds, a galaxy away.
I let go of the gateways.
The images of many places gives me a great hunger for my Jiku body.
I reshape the body, and use it, to anchor my fire body again to the physical world.
The Feldin glow continues to shine, and the Heelu come closer than ever before, brushing their soft, ribbon-like bodies against the top of my head.
When I free the glow, it fills me with joy.
The glow makes me feel almost Feldin, they who are always full of a happy, calm energy.
Do the Heelu feel this joy when they touch the glow?
They seem to take pleasure in it, and I feel that it’s my gift to them for saving me.
Still, I wonder.
The Heelu are pleasant creatures, but mindless.
What are they really, that the Hikweh moves aside for them?
I reach out with a mental touch, looking for a Heelu mind, and a sign of intelligence.
Instead, I find a world without end, a great space filled with points of light, but not stars.
A strong presence fills and moves through this endless world, but I can’t find thoughts or perceptions that I can understand.
Am I touching the mind of one of the creatures?
Perhaps it’s a group mind for the whole flock, or something even larger.
There’s a great fog that separates me from this mind, and I look for a way to break through the barrier.
I let go of the mind touch for a moment, and transform into a Heelu, hoping for a stronger connection.
Before I can renew the mind touch, I feel energy flooding out of me, as though I am a star.
My Heelu pattern body moves toward death, as it gives its energy away, and even my fire body grows weak.
Then, streams of energy pour into me from the other Heelu, and my flood of energy ceases.
Each Heelu in the flock has a moment as a star, and then rests.
What is this strange energy that passes between us, through our streams?
It carries distant perceptions, memories, intelligence, and understanding.
Is the moving energy the silent voice of the Heelu?
The Heelu are not intelligent.
The energy is the intelligence.
It moves around and through these bodies, resting in one and many bodies at the same moment.
In my Heelu shape, the intelligence passes through me, and treats me as another mindless shell.
Why did the intelligence save me from the Hikweh?
To protect me, or speak with me?
No, only to protect and study the energy of the glow.
This web of intelligence controls the Hikweh.
I must speak with it, and find a way to protect the Jiku.
I reach out with a mind touch from this Heelu body, and I feel the presence, stronger than before, but that’s all.
I still feel that I’m viewing it from a great distance.
I focus my energy eyes, again, on the moving energy, so familiar, like I have always known it.
The energy reminds me of my Feldin glow, little different from the energy that the Hikweh fed to the Heelu.
How do I use the glow to communicate with the intelligence?
Like everything else, the mind touch is built of energy, but I’ve never tried to stream energy through it.
The Spiral’s Food
The Feldin glow is a gift that lives in me.
I focus on my glow, and let it move through my mind touch and into the Heelu web.
Now, I am elsewhere, many places, all at once, full of endless voices.
I struggle to hold on to my sense of self.
I sense flocks of Heelu, and herds of unfamiliar, organic creatures.
Each group is filled with the moving energy, and bound together into its own stable energy web.
I also see great networks of crystal, like the crystal trees on Gunal, all hosts to the moving intelligence.
There are vast armies of energy forms that serve us.
They harvest energy, like the Hikweh who hunt the Jiku, and other hunters who attack the Fiklow.
There is a sound that describes it all, a word or a name.
We are Diwan, the community, the intelligence, one and many.
My mind touch brings me images, feelings, and fragments of thought that I can understand.
The Diwan spreads, to experience the universe, and fill it.
There are rare worlds, full of creatures and crystal, fit to host the community.
On these worlds, the intelligence alters its hosts to draw more energy from the web, and absorbs the excess energy.
Satisfied, it often ignores other life.
On planets like Sinesu, where the hosts are absent or few, the Diwan must find other ways to fill its hunger.
It flows unseen along the energy web, and it shapes Hikweh, hunters.
At first, the Hikweh attach to the energy web like parasites, and collect energy, but this is not enough to satisfy its master.
The hunter must search for creatures with rich energy bodies.
Intelligent creatures have more complex energy, and those beings who master the energy web are bursting with the sweet energy of a fire body.
The Hikweh feeds, crushing the living, and delivers the stolen life energy to the waiting Diwan.
A hunter is created for a feeding cycle of a week, then unmade for weeks or months, until it is needed again.
On many worlds, the Diwan is cautious, limiting its own growth to preserve the species it feeds on, and to prevent damage to the local energy web.
On other worlds, the Diwan is vicious, filled with a fear of hunger and death.
Sometimes, there is a period of endless hunger that erases the creature’s restraint.
Sometimes, the Diwan marks a species as a threat that must be crushed.
I catch images of strange creatures and great civilizations, where the Diwan consumes all life, and leaves behind a ruined world.
What is the creature’s weakness, that would enable small beings like us to harm it?
The Diwan journeys beyond worlds of life, into the darkness of space, driven to explore and spread.
Energy is scarce and thin there.
The stars are rich with energy, but that strength is deadly to the creature, unless it finds shelter within a host or a planet’s great web.
In space, the intelligence shapes a Nikol, an unseen hunter, that serves it and feeds it.
The Nikol is not like the Hikweh.
It has no physical presence.
No storm, no lightning.
It follows ships as they pass between stars, and makes the star drive explode.
Then, it absorbs the explosion, and the energy bodies of all the living beings on the ship, who are caught in the explosion.
The Nikol radiates this energy, and makes a bright trail for the Diwan to travel in.
Soon, the trail fades, and the Diwan and its hunters retreat to the safety of living planets.
The Diwan is a world killer.
Its energy can shatter a planet, although it has rarely done this.
Why waste so much energy?
Still, the Diwan has limits.
It can shape hunters, but can’t create physical objects or living creatures, not Heelu or even crystal.
The intelligence is energy that spreads across space and time, and hungers to enter the possibility sea.
The community does not cover all places yet, but it is vast.
It travels through the endless spinning gates that fill the universe, and takes the form of a great spiral.
This is Diwan.
I try to communicate with it, shaping images of my own, but my images are bits of light against a raging sun.
I am unseen.
Does the Diwan know that it feeds on intelligent beings?
Has it ever recognized intelligence outside of itself?
If we find ways to resist the Diwna, will it decide that the Jiku or Fiklow are a threat, and destroy us?
I search, but can’t find the answers in this sea of intelligence.
When I begin to lose myself in the stream of Diwan impressions I end the mind touch, return to my Jiku shape, and go to find my friends.
We must find a way to fight it here, and keep the intelligence out of the possibility sea.
I open the door to the bright room where I left Dilasa and her guardians, and lead them back into the sunlight.
“Is it safe outside, Yagrin?” she asks quietly.
“For now,” I answer.
“Soon, we’ll build more shelters like this one.”
“There will be enough space for everyone to hide when the Hikweh comes.”
“Hiding is no way to live,” says Dilasa’s aunt, “and some of us will always be caught outside.”
“Stay on Sinesu to protect us!” begs Dilasa.
“I don’t know how to protect you,” I tell her, frustrated.
“I tried to fight the Hikweh, and it nearly killed me.”
“What have we done?” cries Dilasa’s aunt.
“Why are we being punished with this beast?”
“You’ve done nothing,” I tell her.
“The Hikweh is a hunter, and we are its food.”
We stand there, unsure what else to say, weighed down by the silence.
I think of the danger to the Jiku here, and wonder if the Diwan will find a way to follow the ships through the possibility sea.
“You’re thinking of home,” says Dilasa.
“You’ll leave us to die, and go some place where you’re safe.”
“I won’t leave you,” I tell her.
“I’ll find a way to keep you safe, but I’ve never faced a danger this powerful.”
“The Hikweh are like the first drop of water that falls from a great storm.”
“You see only the drop, but I see the storm above it, larger than all the oceans of the world.”
“Then there’s no hope,” says the aunt.
“Some believe that my brother and I will stop that storm, and save you all.”
“What do you believe?” she asks.
“I don’t know,” I say quietly, doubting myself.
I leave them, and return to the bright room near Sindar’s monument.
The door is already open there, and the people are streaming out.
I scan the towns searching for dead.
Thank the creator, no one was killed in this attack.
Wisten stands by the opening to the bright room.
My friends are with her.
“You stopped the Hikweh, Yagrin,” she says.
“No one died this time.”
“I did nothing,” I tell her.
“It tried to kill me, and its master stopped it.”
“Master?” asks Makish.
“This thing has a master?”
“What does it want?”
“The Spiral is its master.”
“It wants to feed on us, and spread throughout the universe, and across the possibilty sea.”
“Why did it spare you?” asks Botzar.
I show them my glow.
“My glow is similar to the Spiral’s energy.”
“It wants to study me.”
“You’ve spoken with it, Yagrin?” asks Wisten.
“Can you convince it to leave us alone?”
“I can understand some of its desires, and see images of its history, movements and feedings, but it can’t hear me.”
“My voice is far too small.”
I tell them what I know of the Spiral, and its attacks on the Jiku and Fiklow.
I show them the crystal room, that I made to protect Dilasa and her guardians.
“Sindar left us the location of the first bright room,” says Wisten, “and told us to use it to hide from the storm.”
“Sindar hasn’t visited here since ancient times,” I tell her.
“The attacks only started ten years ago.”
“Writing and a map appeared mysteriously on Sindar’s monument, about twenty years ago, and was signed with Sindar’s symbol.”
“The map shows the location of the room, and the writing says that Sindar found the bright place to protect us against a great storm.”
“When the Hikweh first attacked, those of us near the room hid there.”
“The crystal hides itself from energy eyes, so even if there are more rooms, we’ve never been able to find them.”
“How did you find the second room, Yagrin?” asks Wisten.
“I didn’t find the room,” I tell her.
“I made it.”
“How?” asks B’Tzel.
“The crystal has no pattern, only chaos.”
“I can see through the chaos,” I tell them.
“Wisten,” I suggest, “the population on Sinesu is small.”
“Another hundred rooms should be enough to shelter all of you for the near future.”
“A good plan, Yagrin,” she says.
“We’ll take a few weeks to plan the sites, and then you can build them.”
“No,” I answer.
“The Hikweh may return at any time, and I can’t stay on Sinesu for long.”
“Botzar and I have to leave before day’s end, to speak with the Fiklow, and find a way to fight.”
“I’ll give you an hour to plan the sites.”
Wisten takes three hours to assemble various leaders, and agree on the sites.
I said an hour, but I expected it to take them at least a day.
The plan for the shelters has spread quickly, by word of mouth, and many of the Jiku watch as I create the bright rooms, at Gen speed.
Wisten asks me to make exactly ninety-eight more, so the total will be one hundred.
“One hundred is the number of success,” she explains.
I fly Dilasa home to her guardians.
They live at the edge of the settled land, near thick forest, far from the nearest bright room.
It’s a simple house, made of the local hardwood, and decorated with bright colors.
There’s a large area of cleared land next to the house, filled with growing food.
“Do you like living on the farm, Dilasa?” I ask her as we approach.
She looks at me.
“It’s too quiet,” she tells me, “and there’s no one here to play with me.”
I must look worried.
“It’s not so bad,” she adds.
“I play with other kids when I’m at school.”
“I have to leave soon,” I tell her, as we land.
“To go home?”
“I have to find a way to protect everyone before I can go home.”
“Can I visit your house, soon, and meet your daughter?”
I smile sadly, and take her hand.
“It’s very far away, Dilasa, and the journey is dangerous.”
“Your aunt will never let you go, and if we go, I won’t be able to bring you back.”
“I don’t care,” she says, defiantly.
“I still want to go.”
“Tzina will like me, I can tell.”
“I never told you her name, Dilasa.”
“I see her, and Shazira.”
“They have such beautiful eyes!”
“I also see that strange city, and the Watchtower!”
“Do you see other people’s thoughts, Dilasa, or only mine?”
She looks down, like she’s been caught doing something bad.
“I don’t try to see your thoughts, Yagrin, but when I’m near you, they’re so sharp and bright.”
“I can’t look away.”
“Only your thoughts Yagrin, she adds.
“No one else.”
I wonder if opening her energy sight created a connection between us.
No, it’s more than that.
I felt a strong connection with her, even before I opened her sight.
“I’m not sure,” she says.
“Maybe, I can see someone else’s thoughts,” she admits.
“I was near him once.”
“Don’t be mad at me.”
“I stopped listening to him after a second!”
I kiss her on the top of her head.
“Promise that you’ll visit me before you go home,” she says.
I smile at her.
“You’ll come back, even if I can’t go with you?”
“I promise,” I tell her.
Death and Destruction
I fly back and meet the others, as we prepare to return to our ship.
Wisten has organized a gathering of town leaders to see us off, and hundreds of others have come along.
“We’ve sent official word to leaders on the other worlds,” says Wisten.
“They’re eager to meet Sindar’s brothers, and speak of how we will fight the Spiral.”
“Will you visit them?”
“Some of those worlds have also been attacked by Hikweh.”
“Soon,” answers Botzar, “after we discover a way to fight this monster.”
The air is filled with a strange sound.
Everyone moves toward shelters, and I stand with Wisten at the opening of the bright room, as the last people enter.
“Get in, Yagrin,” she says.
“You don’t have the power to fight this thing, and the Hikweh may devour you this time.”
Reluctantly, I enter the bright room with Wisten, and she closes the door.
I hope that Dilasa will be safe.
There is barely time to reach the shelter, even if she goes at first warning.
The sound of the Hikweh penetrates the walls.
Even in this bright crystal room, the people are afraid.
“The Hikweh stays much longer than usual,” says Wisten.
“That’s probably a good sign.”
“It can’t find anyone to kill!”
“What will it do?” I ask, “if it can’t find anyone to feed on?”
“I don’t know,” she answers.
“That’s never happened before.”
Finally, the sound stops.
Wisten opens the door and we go out.
There are fires in the distance, and the air smells of smoke.
“Look,” says someone, and points toward the center of town.
Sindar’s monument is destroyed.
The people are quiet.
“I can rebuild it if you want,” I tell Wisten.
The people start arguing with each other about whether it should be rebuilt.
Wisten lets them continue for a few minutes.
“Stop,” says Wisten, finally.
“Our death is no longer enough for the Hikweh,” she shouts.
“It wants to destroy everything.”
“Leave the monument in ruins.”
“It will remind us that we must fight.”
I extend my energy sight, and scan the towns.
Many houses are burning.
I fly off quickly, and Makish, Botzar, and B’tzel follow.
We go to the empty, and smother the fire with carbon dioxide.
Then we flow the gas around the smouldering places to water, to extinguish any sparks.
The fires in the towns are out, but I continue to search for fires in the farms outside the towns.
I find more fires, and my heart races when I see Dilasa’s farm burning.
I race toward the farm, and Makish follows.
The house burns, along with the crops, and part of the nearby forest.
There’s no one in the house, so I flow the air around the fire to water, and extinguish the flames.
Dilasa lies quiet, thirty feet in front of the house, her face black with smoke.
She is still alive, but her lungs are filled with smoke, and she can barely breathe.
I pick her up, heal her lungs, and fill them with pure oxygen.
Then I turn to the sight before us.
Her guardians’ burnt bodies still smolder in the field.
She wakes and cries.
“They sent me to the bright room,” she says, but they never came.”
The sound of the Hikweh begins again, just above us.
It comes quickly, too quickly for the people to reach the shelters.
I shine brightly with the Feldin glow, to attract the storm, and give the people more time to reach safety.
When it gets close, I grab Dilasa to fly away to a shelter.
“Stay,” she screams.
“I want to kill it!”
Her eyes burn with a light that I’ve never seen before.
Then I see a ray of intense light shine down through the sky, and cover the forest and towns.
The strange light spreads across the entire surface of the planet, and in a few minutes, the sun’s light returns to normal.
The Hikweh is gone, and Dilasa’s eyes show the colors of Bizra eyes.