VUEL Vuelessa of Centium

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Nikola Tesla, in 1901, wrote: “My brain is only a receiver, in the Universe there is a core from which we obtain knowledge, strength and inspiration. I have not penetrated into the secrets of this core, but I know that it exists.” I receive the stories of Vuel telepathically from space through technology utilized by Kregt Cadizan. This is why he is credited as the author of these books.  Vuel (voo-el) is the vuelan word for life. This is the second book of stories that I am compiling from the transmissions sent to Earth from Vul. Humans have been taken from Earth by the advanced Resjed civilization to create a population on the planet Vul that is genetically receptive to the Resjed DNA. Some Humans were selected for useful attributes while others were close to those selected when they were abducted. One reported being intimately close to her boyfriend when she was taken. Was this her useful attribute? Answers in vuel are scarce for the Humans. Survival is an immediate concern. Vuel is an aggrarian society, puncuated by Houses of Diversion which are hotels with saloons served by

Scifi / Erotica
Age Rating:

Chapter 1

Loee .1

I am sent to Pleasance. I am accepted there.

This story is told by Loee.

My trip by riverboat from Centium to Pleasance was a beautiful vacation. When Aeia told Kregt that I was probably diverted from Pleasance on my arrival, he arranged for my passage and gave me some deen for the trip.

I never amoriged with lo Kregt as Aeia had suggested. He was busy that dim and left early the next brightness to go to Refurio. V’aya, she is one of the vuelas that cook and clean at the hacienda, had told me of an attraction between Eloe and Kregt. Eloe was an Earth vuela and had been purchased by Aeia along with the dancing Halee vuelas. I did not understand everything about the close cooperation that existed between Aeia and Kregt, though it was obviously based on a long friendship between the two.

The trip up the Yuko river from Centium gave me a different feeling for this planet that I found myself living on. I looked out at the forests, meadows and swamps that we passed. The forests of hardwood trees becoming more Boo trees as the terrain became wetter and then swampy. There would be a settlement every horizon. A horizon is a real measurement on Vul. It does not though, seem to be exact. The top deck of the Vuela Yuko river boat revealed that some settlements were closer together than others. Sometimes another settlement would not come into view for some time after we lost sight of the previous settlement.

I counted two cargo boats the first brightness of the trip. One of them looked familiar. I had been put on that boat, or one like it, once. I wondered how these cargo boats knew where to pick things up along the river. Did they go up and down on a schedule?

The vuelans on the boat said the trip took two full brightness due to stronger currents. There were steam paddle engines providing forward thrust for the Rio Vuela. I found myself wondering if anything else on Vul was powered by steam engines. I had not been aware of anything else that was powered.

My life on Earth was so far in the past. I felt naked without my cellphone on Earth. Here on Vul, I found out what is was to be naked. It was being completely dependent on someone else for your existence. I absentmindedly stroked my hand down my ves to assure myself that I was wearing a ves. The scenery was beautiful, as seen from the top deck of a riverboat. In the distance a series of sheds could be seen with what looked like grazing land. I had been placed on a farm like that when I was first brought to Vul and living there wasn’t beautiful at all.

I looked up into the sky beyond Govul. One of those stars could be the sun that Earth revolves around. I have no idea which one or if I am looking in the right direction. The Earth’s sun is not part of any constellation that I have heard spoken of. If this planet is populated with Humans from Earth, there may be Vuelans that map the stars and know which one of those grains of light is the one that holds Earth in it’s system of planets. Why does it seem like forever since I was on Earth? On Earth I was taught to locate the stars of the big dipper and little dipper. I could identify the Pleiades and Orion among the stars in the sky. Those constellations were easy to see from the Llano Estacado. Am I in one of those star clusters now?

Lo Kregt had asked me what I was doing when I was gathered. Who was with me at the time? Did my parents tell me about this planet? Those questions crisscrossed through my mind without illuminating any clue as to why I was brought here. He said to me, “it is different here.” That was an understatement. Was that why Earth seemed to be so far in the past? I was studying Sociology. I suppose that could be valuable in some sense. Is that why I’m here?

The dim comida on the Vuela Yuko was wonderful. I was seated at the captain’s table with some other high passengers. When I saw my cabin on this boat I didn’t think I was in high passage, which is the vuelan term for first class. At the table I mentioned the size of my cabin and was quickly told that it was, indeed, high passage. Most of the passengers only had a curtain between themselves and the next passenger. The other high passage vuelans at the table told me in hushed voices that I was fortunate to not have that much contact with the usual vuelan. I realized that I appeared to be wealthy to them. Appearance can make all the difference, I thought to myself.

The captain arrived and said, “welcome to the Vuela Yuko.” Two servers brought chalices and leaves as he took his seat. He announced, “I am Captain Rosot. How is your river voyage treating all of you?”

We all nodded and told him it was wonderful. A vuelasel laughed and told the captain that someone here did did not realize she was in high passage, not mentioning me specifically.

Captain Rosot smiled and apologized that our cabins did not compare to what he was sure our rooms in our haciendas provided.

I spoke up to say, “my room is comfortable and your vessel is wonderful.”

He smiled at me, replying, “I am thrilled that the vuelasel is satisfied.”

The conversation with the captain and the vuelans at the table covered many subjects. I listened, trying to pick up any information that would be useful. When the conversation finally came to me, I was asked about my destination. I answered simply, “I am on my way to the Domesticate at Pleasance.”

Many of them said, “ah, yes.”

A vuelo asked me, “How long have you been a vuelessa?”

I told him, “I beg your kindness, lo vuelo, I am not a vuelessa.”

He and his amora, as well as the others at the table looked at me, wondering what my situation was.

The vuelo asked, “you are from the faraway lands, aren’t you?”

I addressed them all, “once again I must beg your kindness.” “I was brought from the far away lands and meant for the Domesticate. I was diverted from that destination and it has taken some rotations for me to be found.”

They all, especially the vuelasels, looked at me now with more surprise. I quickly added, “I was identified by the vuelessa Aeia in Centium. One of her friends kindly paid for my passage to Pleasance.”

The amora of the vuelo that had been speaking to me was amazed. He said, “you are truly watched closely by Sola.” The term Sola means sun, of course. It also carries a god like meaning for vuelans.

I lowered my head to them all, acknowledging the assistance of Sola, saying, “Sola has watched over me, along with many vuelans.”

The vuelasel asked further, “the vuelessa Aeia, is she the same Aeia that promotes the colored oil business?”

“Yes, vuelasel, she is.”

The vuelasel asked, “I’ve heard she has a hacienda?”

These vuelans already knew something of Aeia. “Yes, it is outside of Centium on the Lago road.”

Another asked, “where were your diverted to?”

I didn’t want to go into the entire story. I simply told them, “I ended up on a farm,” and I shook my head in disbelief.

Gasps went up from the vuelasels at the table. I looked at them and thought I had better give more detail. I told them, “I was useless there. I was taught, scolded, punished, and I was still useless. The farm family gave up on me and sent me to Refurio where a friend of the vuelessa saw me and realized I was out of place.

The vuelasel that was questioning me asked, “what were you doing in Refurio?”

I took a breath and said, “I was put on the constable’s planks there. That is where the vuelessa’s friend found me, paid my fee and took me with him to the vuelessa. I have since learned what was probably going to be done with me if he had not,” I couldn’t finish the sentence. I took my chalice of vinho to take a sip and regain my composure. Everyone at the table was now more amazed at my story.

The vuelo spoke up, “we are fortunate that we are on the boat with you, vuelasel. Sola watches you so closely that no bad fortune could happen to anyone that is near you!”

The vuelo’s amora asked, “May I ask who the vuelessa’s friend is?”

I saw no reason to not tell them this. I told them, “he is lo Kregt, of the Cadiz.”

Another of the vuelos at the table spoke up. “I have heard of the Cadizan. He is now the premier agent for serving vuelas in the houses.” The vuelo paused to look at the vuelans and told them, “he has an eye for the vuelas.” Then he nodded to me and added, “as you can see.”

Everyone nodded and laughed politely at his comment.

The second boat that took us up the Plata river and into Lake Pleasance left late from Porto Plata and arrived after the last cable wagon run up to Pleasance. We stayed on the boat that dim. My room on the boat was not really a room, but a partitioned space open to the outside. Since I was alone on the trip and being a single vuela, I was not invited to drink vin with the couples traveling on the boat. I sipped my vinho and looked out from my partitioned space at the lush countryside.

A thought came into my mind. They are expecting you. Was Aeia sending me this thought? She must be. I tried to concentrate and think: You are kind, to her. I hoped she was kind. She wouldn’t tell me anything about what was in the training. I was having thoughts of wonder about whether this was a good idea or not. I took a sip of the vinho. On the other hand, who wouldn’t want to be part of a world that created this beverage?

I didn’t sleep well that dim. It was not like the dims when the boats were moving. That gentle movement seemed to rock me to sleep. I was also anticipating my future too much to sleep well. Sola finally dragged itself up and I was the first off of the boat.

A boat vuelo told me, “this lane will take you to the cable wagon, vuelasel.”

I said to the vuelo that helped me step off the boat, “you are kind, lo vuelo.” This village was only known as Pleasance Lake Port. It’s only reason for existence was probably to serve the needs of the Pleasance resorts and the travelers to those resorts. The lane I walked lifted from the lake shore to give a view of the lake. The lake went to the horizon. A ribbon of trees appeared on the far horizon. That must be the shore, I thought to myself. I was anxious to get to Pleasance but I was also hungry. I would have to find something to eat in Pleasance, I thought, because it didn’t look like anything was open here in the port village yet.

A shop in a Vul village is not recognizable like they are on Earth. There are no lights blinking OPEN over the doors. You can usually pick out a cafe because there will be tables and chairs outside in front of the building.

Aeia told me to be aware of my surroundings. There is plenty of crime on Vul. I did look around and noted any movement that my eyes caught. No one was out and about here yet this brightness. Certainly a robber would not be attracted to me. I carried no bag at all. My under belt had coins in it. I only owned the ves I wore over the belt. This was common on Vul. Vuelas like myself would carry a bag for purchased items, but purses were not at all common. This was something that Aeia was looking into for a new enterprise. She was probably correct that purses would be a popular item for vuelas all over Vul.

The attendant at the cable wagon said to me, “that will be seven blue, Vuelasel.”

I read the sign and said, “I only wish to buy a ticket to go up.”

He told me, “that will be four blue, then.”

I waited in the wagon. I thought to myself: I could use something to eat and a cup of jav.

A few vuelans arrived now and filled the wagon and we started up. I understood why they used a cord to pull the wagon. The hill was steep. Soon the entire lake could be seen. The ribbon of trees became a dense forest on the far shore. The lake narrowed and disappeared beyond some hills. There were fishing boats out in the lake already. I couldn’t see much activity from this distance above the lake. The view continued to expand.

A couple that had been at the table on the Vuela Yuko were in the wagon with me. The vuelasel asked me, “will you be staying at a resort?”

I told her, “no, I don’t think so.”

She said to me, “we can see the Domesticate from the resorts. It is above everything else, but we have never toured the Domesticate.”

“Vuelasel, I ask for your kindness, you know more about it than I do.”

The vuelasel encouraged me, “I’m sure you will be a vuelessa soon.”

I smiled back. Our wagon continued to climb. Two other wagons came by us going down. One of them held five vuelans and the other was empty. A vuelo in our wagon said that the wagon that looked empty probably had rocks in it.

The view from this height was breathtaking. The port village looked like it was miniature. It was as if you could see all of Vul from here.

We reached the wagon dock and tied up. It was strange to not have to wait for luggage. I said goodbye to my fellow travelers and walked into Pleasance. There weren’t many vuelans on the lanes yet. I noticed a cafe up ahead that might be open. When I reached the cafe a couple and three vuelos were arriving at the same time. We all were seated and the servers began bringing cups of jav to all of the tables. This part of vuel was like life on Earth, I thought to myself. Obviously, no one was looking at a cellphone. That was different. Cellphones were such a distant memory now. I wondered if I would ever use one again.

My answer came into my mind: Take the main lane up the hill to the end. Ask for the task maiden.

It was Aeia, telling me where to go. I thought: I won’t need cellphones if I develop the ability to read and send thought and well as Aeia.

The next thought she sent was clear in my mind: You will develop the ability, Loee, don’t worry.

I returned her thought: You are kind, Aeia. I was not sure of my ability to send thought. I must be sending something, I supposed. How is Aeia able to know what I want to know?

I became aware of the serving vuela at my table, saying, “vuelasel? Vuelasel?” I gave her my order. Handling thoughts was distracting. I ate my early desayun and drank my jav, paid with the deen I had and left the cafe, to continue up the lane.

The curve of the lane wound through the resorts. Wide walkways were on both sides of the lane. Cart traffic was beginning to appear. I saw only one dog team pulling a wagon. The other wagons were pulled by strong vuelas wearing sturdy sandals strapped up their calves. Short skirts extended from below their belts. They wore fitted tops under the harnessing they used to pull the carts. Trees were in the space between the walkways and the lane.

The air at this altitude was thin and dry and comfortable. I wondered what season this was and if there were the difference in seasons like those I knew of from Earth. The lane was coming to an end. There was a turnaround circle at the end of the lane and a large awning on the building there. I was sure this was the place I wanted to find.

Inside the awning, the world of Pleasance changed. Several vuelans hurried about with different tasks. Across the room a large vuela sat at a desk in front of a wall with implements hanging on it. She was giving instructions to a pair of vuelas who were paying close attention. That must be the task maiden, I thought. Now I listened for a moment. There was no thought from Aeia. I was on my own. I walked up behind the two vuelas receiving instructions and knelt when they stepped away. When I lifted my head to look at the task maiden she had begun talking to someone on the other side of her desk. I waited. She began to flip through items on her desk. I waited.

The maiden startled me, asking, “who are you?”

I was able to respond, “my name is Loee. I am expected at the Domesticate.”

She was suspicious, asking, “where did you come from?”

I quickly told her, “I was diverted on my arrival some rotations ago. A vuelessa found me and has sent me here. She is sure that I was supposed to be here.”

She asked, “who is the vuelessa?”

I didn’t have to have full thought reading capability to understand that the maiden was not comfortable with this situation. I told her, “the vuelessa Aeia, maiden.”

She told me, “come here and turn around and kneel again.”

I did as she asked. My ankles were circled by a thick cord. I didn’t protest. I was supposed to be here. She took my wrists and corded them together. From behind me, she unhooked my ves at my shoulder. My ves dropped to my knees, where she then lifted it outside my arms and over my head.

She said, tersely, “kneel and wait.”

I did not reply. I was in the right place. Aeia told me that I was expected. I knelt there, cabled, naked, waiting. After a period or more I shifted from kneeling to more comfortably sitting on one leg. Sometime later I shifted to my other leg. Many vuelans came by. Few of them even noticed me and none of them gave me any thought.

Past mid brightness I looked up as a vuela came from the back of the large room. This was different. No one had gone into or come from that direction. Some light began to illuminate the vuela. She was beautiful. I got back up on my knees again. Light sparkled from points in her skin around her neckline. She had to be a vuelessa, I thought. She walked directly up to me, not looking away.

A thought came into my mind: You must be the one that was sent. The thought had come from this vuela.

I put my head to the floor at her feet. I said, “the vuelessa Aeia sent me here, vuelessa.”

I heard her call the task maiden, “maiden! In your kindness.”

The task maiden spoke differently to the vuelessa, “yes, vuelessa.”

The vuelessa asked, “did this vuela come and ask for you?”

The maiden told her, “yes, vuelessa, and she said she was expected at the domesticate.”

The vuelessa asked me, “vuela, what is your name?”

I lifted up and said, “you are kind, my name is Loee.”

The vuelessa smiled at me. She handed some bracelets to the task maiden, saying, “in your kindness, put these on her.”

The task maiden was a different person in front of this vuelessa. She said, “yes, vuelessa.”

The bracelets were put on my ankles and wrists, then the cording was removed. I remembered these bracelets from when I first arrived on this planet. I looked up at the vuelessa. Was I starting over?

She held her hands out to me and said, “come with me, Loee.” She helped me stand and led me by my hand out of the task area through a door in the back. I didn’t know what to say to her. I wondered if she could read my thoughts. The task maiden handed this vuela the ves she had removed from me. I would be taken to the Domesticate wearing only bracelets.

The vuelessa said to me, “yes, Loee. Your thoughts are clear. Your mind has been partially opened by vuelessa Aeia. I cannot give you any information more than we are thrilled to have found you.”

I was apprehensive, walking along with this vuela holding my hand, wearing only bracelets. When she spoke to me I became calm. I wanted to hug her. I settled for, “you are kind.”

She stopped and turned to me, smiled and hugged me. She said, “come along Loee, the instructor is anxious to meet you.”

“May I ask your name, vuelessa?”

She chirped, “I am Viya,” and opened the door in front of us.

The walkway to this building was outdoor. I did not see a fence, though I was sure there was some sort of barrier. Viya led me through two doors and up a ramp. This was the first public building I had been in. There are no stairs in buildings on this planet. The constables building in Refurio also had a ramp. We went into a room with a window looking out over Pleasance and the meadows beyond. What a beautiful place this was.

Viya told me, “be kind to wait here.”

I looked around the room. It was spacious and luxurious. I had not seen anything like this. The furnishings were plush. I certainly wasn’t going to sit down on it, being naked. I felt out of place. The view through the window took my mind away from my discomfort. This planet is fantastically beautiful. What was I in for here?

Viya returned with a tray that held two chalices of vinho. She offered a chalice to me, “Loee, be kind and sip some vinho.”

“Viya, you are treating me so well. I don’t understand. Why am I only wearing bracelets?”

Her answer surprised me, “Loee, you are so beautiful, bracelets are all you ever need to wear.” She put the other chalice on a table and left the room. I took another sip of the vinho. It was so rich it was almost syrupy. I had never tasted anything like it on Earth. I wondered if all of the instructors were as cheerful as Viya. I looked at the furniture again. I decided to kneel on the floor with my chalice of vinho. This time I did not sit down on one leg. I took another sip. Was there a reason for these bracelets? I meant to ask Viya. I became aware that someone was in the room and coming up to me. I wasn’t hearing them, I was reading this in my mind.

The message I read was clear. Stand and turn around. I carefully stood up with my chalice in my hand and turned to face a beautiful vuelasel. She sent this thought to me: I am the instructor here at the Domesticate.

I stepped toward her and knelt again, putting my chalice on the floor next to me. I put my head to the floor and then lifted up, presenting myself to her. When I was at my full height on my knees, I said, without knowing where this came from, “I will serve you.”

This vuelasel was looking behind my eyes. This was strange and enjoyable all at once. She was reading my memory. It was like I was telling her all about myself in only a couple of breaths. The vuelasel extended her hand to me. I took her hand and picked up my chalice from the floor. She motioned that I sit on the couch with her.

She smiled in a calm way and told me, “I will speak this because your reading skills are not fully developed. You are the only one that has been found, of twenty two vuelas that were supposed to be delivered to us. It is your extreme good fortune to be recognized by Aeia. We also have lost contact with many of our vuelessas from Aeia’s class. This number of incidents can not be explained away. Aeia, herself, was displaced. What she did then was amazing. It has also altered her value as a vuelessa.”

Viya had left the room after bringing the vinho. She now reappeared with a vuelo following her. The vuelo captured my attention. I moved off the couch and knelt as he came up to the vuelasel and me. Why did I feel that I needed to kneel in front of this vuelo? Why did this seem like the right thing to do? The vuelo and the instructor spoke to each other, referring to me. I put my face to the floor.

The instructor said, “Loee, I can tell that you watched Aeia present herself. Can you present yourself for lo Pelad?”

I looked from the vuelasel to the vuelo. His expression told me nothing. Why do I want to please these vuelans? I knew why. I was a trainable animal to them. I was brought from the faraway lands. I was not of their culture. I was brought here for a purpose and that purpose would be revealed to me, if I wanted to learn it. I put my face back on the floor. The question came into my mind: Do I want this?

Aeia screamed at me in my thoughts: Yes you do. You are necessary. Join me.

I gathered my senses and began to lift up. My hands stroked my body as I lifted as fluidly as I could, remembering what I had seen Aeia do. Now I could see the vuelo, up to his waist. My movement almost stopped. Slowly, I raised my eyes to his face as I lifted myself. My hands stopped under my breasts and I looked into his eyes. He questioned my purpose. I softened my expression. I wanted him to appreciate me. His expression did not change. What do I do now? I continued to look into his eyes thinking he was going to shake his head and walk away. I touched my tongue to my lips as I opened my mouth to breathe in. This felt like the natural thing to do as I had exhaled. His eyes went to my breasts. I had not noticed Aeia doing this, but she must have. The vuelo approved of what he was presented with.

I perceived a slight nod of his appreciation.

He turned to the instructor and told her, “she will be adequate.”

I looked to the instructor. What did this mean? Adequate? I reached out and put my hand on the vuelo’s chest. I tilted my head forward and said while looking into his eyes, “I will serve you.”

The vuelo read my determination and nodded as he said, “yes, you will.” He turned to leave.

I looked to the instructor. She watched him walk away. I noticed Viya watching the vuelo also. They were making sure he left the room. The instructor looked at me and said, “you were meant to be a vuelessa. Lo Pelad is an instructor here also. Though he did not let you know, he was impressed with your ability.” She motioned that I sit and said, “Viya, come sit with us.”

Viya came to me and handed me the chalice of vinho that I had left on the floor.

The instructor said, “Loee, we need to know what experiences you’ve had since your arrival on Vul.”

I told them of the transport stopping and how we were split up and taken in different wagons. I was sure she was reading more description from me as I was telling this. I described the farm that I worked on.

The instructor asked, “when you were used by the vuelen on the farm, did any of them seek you out later to use you again?” She read of this from me.

“Yes, instructor, one of the vuelen came to me three more times and one of them came to use me twice.” I had not described this detail before to anyone.

She then asked me, “when you were sent to the vuelen with the lash, they used you instead of lashing you every time?”

“Yes, instructor. They were kind.”

She smirked, I thought, saying, “the maiden then stopped sending you to them, didn’t she?”

“Yes, instructor. That is when I was cabled to a produce wagon and sent away.”

She probed, “when you arrived in Refurio, what happened?”

I had not described this to anyone, either. I told her, “I was still ignorant of the language. The vuelen in the port asked me questions that I did not understand and all I could say was “kindness, lo vuelo.” The vuelen decided that I was some kind of runaway, probably because the barge vuelen had not declared me as part of their cargo. A cord was put around my neck. My wrists were cabled behind my back and tied to my neck cord. I was pulled along by a constable to the planks and tied to the post there. That is where lo Kregt found me.”

The instructor and Viya traded thought. The instructor asked, “lo Kregt, this is the vuelo that is Aeia’s friend? Is he also from the faraway lands.”

I was sure she already could read this from me, “yes, instructor.”

She asked Viya, “Viya, you’ve read something from Loee already haven’t you?”

Viya answered, “yes, maiden. She has some ability. She will develop quickly.” Viya addressed the instructor as maiden. In this case, she is the assistant to the instructor, so the vuelan word that is similar to manager is used. It was odd, I thought, that Viya did not use the instructor’s name. These two vuelas certainly knew each other well. Was I reading this from them? Did I have some ability to read thought?

The instructor said to Viya, “take her to the training room and assess her carefully. Be kind to tell me your findings.”

Viya smiled at me, “come, Loee, you are going to enjoy this!”

The training room was also spacious. It usually was used by twenty or more vuelas that were training to be vuelessas. There were charts on the walls. These had words and numbers on them to teach reading and arithmetic. Lounges, instead of chairs filled the room. I thought this was odd, until Viya began my evaluation.

She looked in my eyes and took both of my hands in hers, “Loee, can you tell that I like to be with you? Do you like being with me?”

I laughed at this, “Viya, you are so happy and fun to be around. I could be around you all of the brightness!”

Viya continued, with intent, “this is an exercise that our new vuelas do with each other to demonstrate to them what they are capable of. We do not tell them what will happen during this exercise, but I am going to tell you, because we need you to advance quickly.”

I looked at Viya and wondered what she meant. She closed her eyes for a moment. She inhaled slowly and opened her eyes and said, “trust me, Loee. You will feel some arousal. This opens the mind to read feelings and much more. Let me show you.”

I stood there in front of Viya and looked into her eyes. She did like me. I read that she felt warmth when she was with me. I felt warmth when I was with her. Now, I read that being with me was comfortable for her. I was comfortable being with her. She thought I was beautiful. Viya is beautiful. I realized that she was almost touching me. We are close friends and we should bess each other as friends would. I felt myself bessing Viya. I realized we were holding onto each other. I held onto Viya. The stress and fear of this world disappeared when she held me. My thoughts were: I understand, Viya. I understand what I am doing. This is amazing. Are you reading me? You are kind! I am happy that I am here. Yes, I wanted lo Pelad to desire me. You think so? He has you and the instructor here every day, doesn’t he? Why would he desire me? Does he live here? Do you live in this building somewhere? There are other vuelos here?

We had an entire conversation that I thought took several moments. My thoughts continued: You are right, Viya, I do feel arousal, is that what I am feeling? It is overwhelming me.

I experienced deep arousal. My body quivered. Viya’s lips separated from mine and I opened my eyes. My eyes were wide, looking at her. My mind asked: Did you?

She laughed as she sent this thought to me: No, Loee, you did that for yourself! My hands never left your waist.

I was having difficulty believing what I was experiencing. I thought: We are having a conversation through thought?

Viya spoke to me. “Yes, Loee, we had a conversation that would have taken several moments that happened in only a breath or two. Your thought reading capability is advanced beyond what the domesticate trains for.”

I asked, “there is more to this than that, isn’t there?”

She said, “certainly, another thing we instruct is taking care of yourself. It has stopped raining outside by now so let’s go out to the garden plaza.” Viya took my hand to lead me.

I wondered: How did she know it had rained?

Viya thought to me as if I had asked her the question: It rains here in Pleasance every late brightness. The rain lasts a period or so and then it goes away.

I returned her thought: You are kind. It was as if we were speaking to each other.

She led me though a passage on the other end of the room. The passageway opened to a lush garden. There were trees and flowers and fountains. Benches were beside pools of water. Large pools were at the far side of the plaza on two levels.

Viya still held my hand. I asked, “Viya, are you supposed to hold my hand. Is that a rule?”

She laughed at this, telling me, “no! I am holding your hand because I like you, Loee!”

Viya was so genuine that I leaned close and bessed her. I said, “I like you too, Viya. You are so kind! Are you this kind to every vuela?”

She looked off to the distance as we walked toward what I thought were swimming pools. “I am this kind to many vuelas. Aeia has a friend that trained with her. Her name is Ua. Have you met her? Does Aeia speak of her?”

I told her, “Aeia has sent her friend lo Kregt, to try to find Ua. Did you know she was lost?”

This was the first time Viya was not bubbly. She answered, “yes. I have read horrible experiences from Ua. I love Ua. She is a wonderful and talented vuelessa. Do you think lo Kregt will find her?”

Viya was seriously concerned for Ua. I told her, “yes, Viya, lo Kregt has the deen to make things work in his favor. Aeia said that lo Kregt has met the primitive vuelans that hold her. She believes lo Kregt knows how to free Ua. Do not worry.”

Viya looked up at me. Her eyes were moist but she smiled again and said, “you are right, Loee. Ua will be fine. She has probably helped the primitives already! Come, let’s go swimming. You know how to swim, don’t you?” She asked me as she unhooked her ves and tossed it onto a lounge.

I looked at the pool. “There is no board to propel yourself into the pool.”

Viya gave me the strangest look.

“On Earth, pools have a board that you stand on and spring up into the air to then go into the pool.”

Viya asked, “did you ever do such a thing?”

“Yes. I was considered good at propelling myself into the pool from the board.”

She looked through my eyes now. I could tell that she was reading something from my mind. She put her fingers at her lips, “Loee, you are fearless. I wonder if that is why you were brought here?”

That dim, I joined the instructor and Viya in the large room that I had first come to. We dined on light fare. The vinho was a refreshing white. The instructor began to ask questions about Aeia. I described what I knew. That Aeia and Kregt own businesses in Centium and that they had known of each other from the faraway lands. I told of how lo Kregt travels to Refurio, of course, that is where he paid the fee for me.

The instructor asked, “Is the hacienda a large holding?”

I told her, “yes, instructor. It has a large land area and the casa is two levels with many rooms and several large rooms, a large patio, and it has a swimming pool. There is a lake on the property. Aeia had the pool built.”

Viya and the instructor traded thought with each other. I was sure that I read their thought, that it did not surprise them that Aeia had built her own swimming pool and that Sola cannot be prevented from shining on her. They looked at me.

I smiled and returned their thought: Yes, I agree.

The instructor asked further, “does Aeia operate the businesses?”

I said, “there are vuelas that operate the businesses. Aeia works closely with them, that is my impression.”

They ask me about the serving vuelas that Aeia manages and about the colored oil business that was spreading throughout Centium.

This discussion prompted Viya to ask, “Loee, since you are from the faraway land that Aeia is from and you understand the things that she is doing, why didn’t you simply stay there and help Aeia in those tasks?”

I told them, “I did help with the tasks. I did visit the Vuela’s Coin to see what the serving vuelas do. Those tasks did not hold my interest. The vuelas that work in the houses have fun and are paid well. They appear to enjoy what they do. I was training to do that work. I was working as a replacement already. It was lo Kregt that suggested to Aeia that I may have been diverted from my true destination. That is when Aeia read my thought, and I think I answered her, that is why I was sent here.” Viya and the instructor traded thought, once again. I read that they remembered Aeia was close to a vuela in her class named Era. Then the thoughts became nonsensical.

The discussion went back to Aeia and Kregt. The instructor asked, “Loee, are there vuelos that protect Casa Lago?”

I said, “yes, instructor, there are several. There is also a large vuelo who appears to have been in many fights that accompanies Aeia everywhere she goes.”

Viya giggled at this, asking, “is the vuelo disfigured? Why would Aeia have such a vuelo follow her?”

I told them, “they say the vuelo is famous, that everyone on Vul knows him. His name is Murgad.”

The instructor and Viya looked at each other with wide eyes. The instructor asked, “Murgad is working as the protector for Aeia?”

Viya sat back and laughed. Her thought to the instructor was: We no longer have to be concerned for Aeia !

The instructor said to me and Viya, “this Murgad, his face is disfigured? He must be the famous gang fighter.” Then she asked me, “how did she acquire his services?”

I answered, “I don’t know that, instructor, but he is completely loyal and attentive to her.” I thought to myself that Aeia and Murgad are a strange pair when you see them together.

The instructor returned my thought: Yes, I read your amusement.

This surprised me. I thought: Did I send you that thought and did you read it?

She said to me, after sending that same thought, “yes Loee, your skill at reading is more than we require.”

The instructor asked again about lo Kregt, “was lo Kregt in Refurio on other business when he paid your fees?”

I gave as much of an answer as I could, “he probably has business interests there that involve the vuelans of the Cadiz, who he is familiar with.”

The instructor and Viya nodded at this. I read no thoughts.

The instructor announced that she was meeting with someone and Viya would show me where I was to sleep. She then left the table.

Viya said, “come, Loee, you have had a long brightness and we must begin early next brightness. Your lessons tomorrow will be both enjoyable and critical to your success as a vuelessa.”

She showed me to a room that was well appointed. It had it’s own sand room that was well stocked with loe stems and leaves for lavation. I use this word instead of bathing. It is much different than bathing. There was a variety of smoothing stones and oils. There was a pitcher of water for drinking. Viya described the stones and oils to make sure I knew what they were and advised me on how to use them.

“This is not how the usual vuela is treated for vuelessa training, is it, Viya?” I was sure it was not.

Viya laughed, “by Sola, No! The usual vuela is treated like a farm animal. Did Aeia not tell you?”

“No! She did not say anything!”

Viya said, “that is probably just as well. You may not have come.”

“Viya, why am I being treated so well?”

She became serious, as much as her personality allowed. She told me, “we have an assignment that we must send a vuelessa to in the next two or three brightnesses that you will be perfect for. That is why you must get some sleep. Your lessons in the next brightness are critical.”

I couldn’t help my curiosity, “what is the assignment? Why is it important?”

Viya said, “I can only tell you that it is in an area in which there is conflict. Socialization is slow to occur. We are sending you because of your sense of the importance of acculturation. Vuelas such as yourselves are gathered for, among other things, your sense of honest and fair motive. You carry ideals that are necessary for vuelans to accept and adopt.”

I was flattered that Viya gave this description for me. This quality was what I sensed in Aeia. I was complemented that the instructor and Viya saw similar attributes in me. I did not ask further, except, “What is the lesson next brightness that is so important?”

Viya became her chirpy self again and put her arm around me, saying, “you will love it Loee! It is the vuela sexual response.” Then, she bessed me and hurried from the room before I could ask what that meant.

Renzt .1

A Slavuela is not as she appears.

From the copyright: Renzt was known at Lorenzo when he first arrived on Vul. He and several other Earth Humans had walked away from or were rejected from their original placements in vuel. They were surviving in a ravine by the river Yuko and seeking a vuelo called, The Cadizan. One of the group contacted Kregt in Refurio and he took them to Casa Lago. That story is in chapter Kregt .9, Perception is Everything.

He is now a teamster, hauling weapons and vinho, along with other cargo, for Kregt and Fettik.

This story is told by Renzt.

Kregt and Fettik were right. These loads pay well. I have begun driving wagons for the company they share. They loaned me the deen to buy the wagon and the zebry team. I also pay for armed vuelos for many legs of the trips. My name was altered from Lorenzo to Renzot, to the Cadizan form, Renzt.

I was trained in military transport so I was familiar with unpaved roads. There are no paved roads on Vul. There are maintaned roads and lanes in the villages and cities. The Camino Rio is maintained between Refurio and Centium. You are fortunate to find a good road anywhere else. I knew nothing about Zebry. These are the draft animals that are used to pull heavier loads in vuel. A Zebry is a blend of a mule and a zebra. They bark like zebras but they can pull like mules. They have dark brown and light brown markings. There is a large industry that cares for zebry teams. Teams are bought and sold in every village. I also hire stable hands to care for my teams when I am hualing round trip.

I was glad to take on the driving of wagons for Kregt and Fettik. It was common opinion that Kregt made his deen by hauling loads to the Cadiz and back to the cities on the Yuko river. Now that I have experienced the amount of deen that is paid for loads in this area I believe Kregt must have had another source of income. Be kind to understand, I am paid well for this work. I am also sure that Kregt must have had some amazing payout fall into his lap that has not presented itself to me. Do not be concerned. I am a patient vuelo. This vuel suits me and I am accepted in vuel as a Cadizan. Sola shines for me.

I carry more than the vinho and oils that are the basic loads. This trip, I’m transporting three vuelas from a barge in Refurio to Larex at the far edge of the Cadizan plain. Slavuelas are difficult to handle. They must be taken out of the wagon so they can use sand. I have to feed and water them. They are not passengers, though. They are cargo. They are cabled together and stay where I put them in the wagon. They are slavuelas bound for a market in Larex.

Kregt told me long ago that slaves do not exist on Vul. There are some, however. The slavuelas I am transporting now are being sent as payment for grain that did not arrive. The grain was bartered and not replaceable. These vuelas will work for the vuelans of Larex until the ledgers are balanced. Slavuelas can be put to any tasks to settle the debts. It is my understanding that they will eventually be freed. If their village harvests an abundant crop the next season the slavuelas may be replaced by the extra shipment.

This trip was taking two brightnesses. The brightnesses on Vul are longer than Earth days, I’m sure. It seems the same, but I know it is not. My best calculation is that a brightness is two hours longer than a day. An hour is similar to what vuelans call a period of time. That is the description that Aeia gave it when I asked her. She also thought that a brightness was longer than a day. The longer time that Sola shines in a brightness means that only six brightnesses on Vul last the time of a seven day Earth week. Vuelans call this a six.

The armed vuelos I picked up in Refurio were Cadizan, so they knew the risks associated with traversing the jungle where the Pua clan is known to cause problems. My wagon is built to withstand an attack. The wheels are soft and the chassis sits on springs. These things allow for faster speeds. I use a team of four zebry. We have out run many problems. The outlaw gangs have been seen rushing into the roadway after we pass. The jungle that the Pua live in is different. The brush is too thick and there is too much distance that the Pua could use to attack the wagon. I wasn’t afraid of attack, though. This was not due to the wagon’s hardened walls. It was due to the vinho I carried. The Puans make a type of vinho from berries. The vinho I had given their trade leader amazed him. He had previously tasted nothing like it. So I was not surprised to see them, up ahead. This was my third trip through this part of the Pua lands. I noticed that there were more of them this time. I was assured that this would happen.

The leader of the party held up his bow. I held my left arm straight out from my shoulder. This was the sign that I was offering something to them. The party stepped to the side of the roadway to show that we would pass if they accepted our offering. I pulled the zebry to a halt when we reached them. My vuelos each held up an arm to show that we would not fire on them.

I recognized Suradad and called to him, “Suradad! Sola is truly bright for me!” There was another Pua vuelo with Suradad that looked as if he was high in the clan. I stepped down from the wagon. Suradad offered his palm to me. This was the first time this had happened. I had been first to offer mine before. I said, “you are kind, Suradad. Who have you brought to meet me?”

He told me, “this is Zed. He is of a brother clan. I want him to taste the vinho. I have told him he will think Sola brought it to him and he does not believe me.”

I told Zed. “Sola brings this to you.” I poured him a cup from the bottle I keep under my bench. He sniffed it first, the same way Suradad did when I offered it to him the first time. I poured some for myself and Suradad. I sniffed mine to show him that I, too, sniffed this drink. The primitive vuelo sipped carefully. His eyes opened wide. This was exactly how Suradad had reacted. It was how I reacted the first time I tasted vuelan vinho. Kregt told me that brightness I first tasted it that the vinho was a reason to become vuelan. He was correct.

A low groan came from the Pua clan leader, Zed.

Suradad assured me, “he likes it.”

I nodded, “you say he is of a brother clan?”

Suradad explained, “there was a split in the clan. Zed is leading the new clan.” I wanted to ask more but thought I had better not. He said, looking at my wagon, “you have more than vinho in your wagon this brightness.”

I didn’t want to make it appear that was keeping something secret. I told him, “yes, come take a look, Suradad.” I walked behind the wagon and pulled the tarp back. The slavuelas squinted at Sola. They tried to lift their hands to cover themselves but were prevented by their cording. This is such a different world. I didn’t know whether to pity them or not. I said, “I am delivering them to a market. They are not mine to sell.”

Suradad looked at the vuelas carefully. Too carefully, I thought. I kept quiet, though. I didn’t want him to believe these vuelas held any particular value. He observed, “none of these are a jeweled sorceress.”

“No, they aren’t.” I was not sure what he meant. Then I realized that he might be referring to Ua. The vuelessa Ua had been held by this clan and she had a necklace of jewels embedded into her skin where a necklace would be. I was going to let his comment go. Then I asked, “are you looking for a jeweled sorceress?”

He asked, “can you supply one?”

“I can try. What do you want one to do for you?

Suradad said, “we had a sorceress that saw things. Our Capitan thought that she attracted animals to an important safari. He wants to find one that can do that.”

I did not know these details. I had only heard some of the story from Ua when we met in Refurio and took a wagon to Casa Lago. She had to be the sorceress that Suradad was referring to. I decided to ask a question and see if there was a way to make a profit from this, “I met a sorceress once that told of being with a clan. This may be the jeweled sorceress that was with your clan.”

Suradad was interested in what I said when Zed walked up to us, wanting another cup of vinho. I poured him another cup. I said, “I do not know where Ua is now, I can ask where she is and I will tell you when I come through again.” I was thinking that this would be a way of making myself valuable to the Pua.

Suradad said to me, “the Pua would tell Sola of your kindness.”

I gave Suradad and Zed a few bottles of vinho and rolled on. In less than a period I heard a vuela’s voice call, “lo vuelo, Lo Vuelo.”

Gidat, riding with me on the bench to watch forward, nodded back to the wagon. I handed him the reins and pulled up the tarp. The slavuelas begged to use the sand. I looked for the next place that would provide comfort for them and stopped. Gidat stood on the bench to watch while Keltuk, the other armed vuelo walked behind the wagon a short distance. This was the usual defense for an impromptu stop. I also take the advice of Gidat, who tells me to stop on top of a hill, or some other type of defensible position. We were close to the Cadizan plain so there were a few more sandy places that could be seen near the road.

The slavuelas scooted out of the wagon and let me guide them to the sandy place that they could relieve themselves. They had not spoken to me except to say when they needed water or to use sand. I held the cord that was attached to all three of them and looked everywhere but at them, trying to give them privacy.

One of the slavuelas finally spoke, “lo vuelo, you are kind. You did not give us to those primitives.”

I told them, “you are not mine to give. Do you not know where you are going?” I did not know the details of how this worked. I had learned that it is best to ask indirect questions, instead of declaring your ignorance.

The slavuela said, “we are not told, lo vuelo. When we were chosen we were hooded immediately and sent away. Our hoods had been removed only before you took us into your wagon.” The two vuelas with her said nothing.

I replied, in a way that would disguise my ignorance, “It must be done differently in your village. How were you selected?”

The slavuela told me, “the vuelas of the village that were not raising kids were required to submit their names in groups of three to the council. We knew that one group of three would be chosen.”

I asked, “your group gave your names willingly?”

She said, “it is an honor to serve the village. The service is not forever, only two annaros, then we are released.”

I had to ask, “you went to the gathering knowing that you were chosen?”

She explained, “no. The council gathering is attended by all vuelans in the village. All the vuelas that submitted their names are honored. There were five groups in the selection gathering. We all lined up, facing the village, with our wrists crossed behind our backs to show our submission. Our names were read and ahs were called for each of us. As soon as all of the names had been read the hoods were pulled over our faces and our wrists quickly cabled. We heard the cheers and ahs from the other vuelas as our vesses were dropped to our feet. In that moment, we became slavuelas.”

The slavuela described this as a common occurrence. We had returned to the wagon and I latched their cord down. I put their bowls of food and water in front of them and watched them put their faces in the bowls to eat their food. They were getting better at this. The slavuelas were learning quickly.

All three now looked up at me as I got on the bench to call the zebry. They called to me, “you are kind, lo vuelo.”

This world has some strange things going on. I supposed they made sense, to the vuelans. I was vuelan now. The oddities would begin to make sense to me, probably. I looked at Gidat and Keltuk. They were more at ease. We were entering the Cadizan plains.

Keltuk called to me, “Come, Renzt, there are vuelas that want to meet you!” I had taken the zebry out of the harnessing and led them to a pasture. Their long cord I tied to a post. There were a couple of zebry tied there already. The cattle herd was not far off. The zebry were taken care of before the slavuelas. They waited for me to come back from the pasture and take them out to use sand. Some Cadizans noticed them. They were only mildly curious about these slavuelas. I had released their left arms from the belly cords and attached one stride cords to allow one half a stride so the slavuelas could wash themselves in the pond. They were grateful and told me of my kindness for letting them bathe. They offered to wash me and I almost took them up on that offer. I did take the opportunity to wash my face off in the water.

The pond was spring fed and supported this transportable village. The Cadizan tents were held up by large boo poles. There were some permanent buildings that were utilized. This village of Cadizans would move from this place to the higher plains in the warmer rotations. Their movement was determined by the grasses and the herds. I learned that there were six or seven villages of Cadizans that moved with the herds across the plains. They cooperated with each other. There did not seem to be an issue with the amount of cattle that any one village wanted to take from the herds. The herd seemed to be endless, for now.

When I started to take them back to the wagon, the slavuelas begged, “let us stay outside, lo vuelo.”

“You are too pretty to be left outside and available to any vuelo that comes by. You are slavuelas now, remember? I must deliver you in good condition to Larex.” They did not answer for a moment.

Then, one of them, not the vuela that had been talking for all of them, asked, “we are available to any vuelo who wants to use us?”

“Now you understand why I must put you in the wagon. The usual vuelo would have difficulty passing you by.” They said nothing more. They were beginning to understand what being a slavuela would mean.

The dim meals were being prepared when Keltuk had called me. The tables were being set and the pots were steaming and smelling good. I was hungry. A vuela came up to me. She knelt in front of me, lowered her head to the ground, looked up and said. “lo Renzt, you do not need to go through the line, I will serve you this dim. I am Suva.”

Before I could say anything, Suva asked, “Do you like the ribs or the chunks or both?”

She was asking how I wanted my meat. It is cooked as large chunks, which can be large enough for a family, or ribs which is plenty for one vuelo to eat. I chose the ribs. It had been my observation that most Cadizans preferred the chunks and I did not want to impose on their hospitality.

She asked, “do you like the red or the green beans?”

I asked for the green. There was usually plenty of green beans. This is a dish that is more like rice mixed with green onions on Earth. It is seasoned with plenty of peppers by the Cadizans. Pepper plants of many varieties grow wild on the plains.

Keltuk called to me, “come, Renzt, we have a place for you.” He motioned to a table with some of the village leaders. I sat down with them while the serving vuelas were bringing plates of food to all of us. There was a certain vuela that served each vuelo. Some of them were probably the espas of the vuelos. One vuela was grabbed and put over the vuelo’s lap and her ves was flipped up. Her bottom was slapped as she was promised his full attention later this dim.

Another vuela, that I was sure was the espa of the vuelo she was serving asked him why he didn’t do that? He told her, laughing, “because she is Tiltit’s espa!” The vuela turned her bottom to her espo and slapped her own but cheek. Now the vuelos laughed at him while they pointed at his espa.

One of the vuelos at the table announced that I was a guest that was a friend of the Cadiz. This vuelo, Bulkot, introduced himself to me and gave the names of the vuelos around the table. I was pleased to be treated like a celebrity, though I was sure they were going to be disappointed if they were looking to me for advice or business information. I said hello to everyone and described their kindness to have me in their midst.

Bulkot said, “Renzt, we want to ask you about the vinho business you are transporting.”

I couldn’t imagine where this was going. I said, “Bulkot, vuelos, you must understand that my expertise with vinho ends at drinking it.” This brought the laughter that I counted on to lighten the mood.

Bulkot, who laughed with us, continued, “you know something valuable to us, lo Renzt.”

Bulkot referred to me as lo. This was significant, if undeserved. I asked, “what would that be?”

Bulkot explained, “Renzt, we can only send small shipments of meats to Refurio because the cost of paying off the Pua clan takes too much from the shipments. This arrangement has worked for the purpose, which was to trade beef for enough deen to buy needed supplies in Refurio. We cannot ship through Larex because it would be too far to get to Centium. You have found a way to buy safe passage with the Pua that does not involve beef.”

I asked, “I gave them bottles of vinho because that is what I carry. Do you think that they value vinho more than your beef?”

Bulkot nodded at Gidat as he said, “vinho is something they do not have. They hunt for meats, so they may consider vinho more valuable. There is another thing that might be valuable that Gidat told me about.”

I looked at Gidat, wondering what he was thinking of. He said, “Suradad asked you about the sorceress. They believe she is valuable, do you know who she is?”

“I know her. She is not a sorceress. She is the vuelessa that is now called Exerva. They held her as captive some rotations ago and sold her for a profit. She was sure that the capitan of the clan was going to kill her if she had stayed with them much longer.” I described this to all at the table. I asked Gidat, “do you think they want her that much?”

Gidat said, “Suradad asked for something specific. This could mean that the clan leader is seeking her again.” He had already told this to the village leaders and they all nodded in agreement.

“Why is this important to your village? Do you want to change the arrangement that you have with the Pua?” I knew there must be some other reason for involving me.

They all looked to Bulkot. He told me, “the Cadizan vuelans want to build a permanent village that is one brightness away from Refurio. This village would be on lands that Cadizans have avoided. The location of the village would be vulnerable to attack by the Pua clans. This vuelessa that you know, that the Pua clans believe is a sorceress, may be able to help with a new agreement that the Pua would accept.”

I decided to ask a stupid question, “why don’t you ask them yourself?” The laughter died down a few moments later. I realized that the Pua clans may be difficult to deal with. Everyone began to eat and drink. I joined them. Soon, I offered, “I will ask Exerva to intervene. She will do this for you if it will help the Pua clans in any way. I have come to know something about the Pua. It appears that anything that moves them toward being more civilized will be helpful to them.”

Bulkot said, “we were sure you would understand, Renzt.” Many at the table also voiced their agreement.

After the food was served to everyone there was dancing between the fires. This was great entertainment. I had gone to take the slavuelas out to use sand and then cabled them into the wagon for the dim. I told them to sleep well this dim. The coming brightness they would be in the market at Larex. I sat on the grass watching the dancing. The youth of the village walked in circles and through each others arms. The dance kept the rhythm of the flutes and stringed instruments that played a tune. The group circling reminded me of folk dances I had seen on Earth. The dancing was arousing to these Cadizans as one and then two vuelos picked up a vuela and put her over their shoulder to carry her off. One of them was cheered with Ah’s as she looked up from the vuelo’s back to her friends. Her ves down around her shoulders as she was carried away.

While the dancing continued I became aware of Suva sitting close behind me. I offered, “come sit next to me so you can see.” She scooted up next to me. I smiled at her.

She leaned into me, saying, “you are kind, lo vuelo.” This was a Cadizan vuela. She was pretty, if I reminded myself that I was in the Cadizan plains of Vul. This was not Earth. This was not one of the cities or large villages. This vuela was as pretty as was usually found in this area. She had rubbed the laven plant into her hair. This was a flowering grass that gave off a sweet fragrance. She wore no colored oils. Those were only known in the large villages. I suppose that colored oils are known here, it is simply that they are rare.

I started to wonder if colored oils or even vesses were ever sold here. Was any merchandise of any kind brought into the Cadiz? Was everything I saw purchased from the distant villages? What if a safe trade road was established? That could be.

I stopped my thoughts as small vuela fingers had found their way into my pantos. This vuela was not allowing any guessing about her intentions. I turned to look at her and she bessed me with wet firm lips that allowed her tongue to make it’s way past mine. In a moment she let loose, needing to breathe. Her eyes opened to show her arousal. I took her left arm with my left hand, put her over my shoulder and stood up to carry her away. She must have waved because I heard Ah’s called to her as we left the other Cadizans.

My tienda was set up next to my wagon. I carried the vuela into it and put her down on my bedding. She was all over me. I said, “hold, ” before taking her arms. She calmed somewhat and took a breath. Her ves was gone. Had she dropped it before I got her in the tienda? I asked her, “why are you so interested in me?”

The vuela was surprised to hear this question. There were many things I was ignorant of in vuelan culture, but I could tell that she did not know what to say. My tienda flap was open to allow the dim light. I smiled and said, “I am Renzt. You are Suva?”

She said, “Suva, yes.” She was unsure what I was asking for.

I said, “Suva, I am not of any Cadizan village. I will leave with Sola and may not be back for a long time.”

I felt her hand grasp my penis. Then she felt for my, orchis. This is what vuelans call testicles. Earth males, having been in the transport coating, seem to not have much of a scrotum, if any at all. Suva felt my skin where the scrotum would be and made a happy sound. She knew what she was looking for. She petted my skin there and looked up at me. I could see her smile in the dim light. She told me, “I won the blades to get you!” She apparently was happy with whatever she had won.

I was not understanding, “What?”

Suva explained, “you are from the faraway lands. You are different here. We drew blades to see who would get to amorig with you.”

I had been the subject of a contest of blades. Blades of grass are pulled, much as straws are pulled on Earth. This being the Cadizan plain, blades of grass are used. Grasses mean everything to the Cadizans. I said, “let me understand. Blades were pulled to see who won, or were blades pulled to see who lost?”

Suva began to giggle. She said, “who won, lo vuelo. It is said that the orchis of the faraway lands hide. All the vuelas wanted to find out if this was true.”

I did wonder this, “is that all you wanted to know?”

She was still grasping my penis and said, “I also want to know if they work the same,” as she worked at my pantos to get them open.

I decided to help her with my pantos. She opened her legs to me. “Wait,”

She lifted to wonder what my hesitation was, “lo vuelo?”

“I want to know if vuelas in the Cadiz are the same as vuelas from the faraway lands.” I lowered my face to bess her in her clitoral area, taking care to make contact in what I thought was the right place. Her moans told me I was accurate. I paused and lifted up a little.

She reached for me, moaning, “I think we must be the same, lo vuelo.”

I smelled the cooking fires before the brightness and realized that Suva had left in the dim. I checked my pouches. The had not been touched. This was a habit from Earth. If something was amiss I could have easily found the vuela. It did not hurt to check, to be sure. I went out to the fire that I saw Bulkot and Gidat and some of the vuelos that I had talked last dim.

Gidat asked, “how was Suva last dim, Renzt?” He did not look away from the fire as he handed me a cup of jav.

I said, “Suva is a charming vuela, do I need to tell someone of their kindness?” I wondered if Suva’s visit had been arranged.

He said, “no, not that I know of. The vuelas all wanted to be with you last dim. I think they drew blades.”

“You know why, I suppose.” I didn’t think the lack of a scrotum was a secret.

He said, “I’ve been told, more than I wanted to know.” He still did not look up from the fire.

Bulkot came up to the fire and said, “Renzt, we have arranged to get you a weapon. We want you to be able to protect yourself. You have value to us now, you understand.”

“You are kind. I have been told that there may be a weapons maker that you could steer me toward.” Kregt had told me of a weapons maker named Pagalund. I did not ask his name, Kregt told me not to.

Bulkot wanted to see how close I was. He asked, “did they tell you what his name was?”

I was told not to say the name Pagalund, but to listen for it. I said, “yes. I don’t remember what it was, though. I also want to arrive in Larex by late in the brightness.”

Gidat said, “we thought you would. Bulkot will go with us for awhile and we can stop off to get you a weapon, if you can spare the time?”

I didn’t know of what they were thinking, but told them, “I can spare the time for that. Is there a village on the way?”

Bulkot said, “no, there isn’t.”

I went back to the wagon and woke the slavuelas to take them out. They weren’t talkative this brightness. They were now accustomed to being taken to use sand with me holding their cord and didn’t try to hide anything. I looked away, mostly, trying to offer them privacy, though they were slavuelas. I checked to see that the zebry were grazing in the early light. The cooking smells were becoming strong now, so I went to the fires to have some early brightness desayun. Desayun was a vuelan word that was obviously taken from the Earth language. There are many vuelan words that those of us from the faraway lands recognize.

I drove the zebry away from the Cadizan village. Gidat accompanied me without Keltuk. The Cadiz was a relatively safe place on Vul so I no longer needed the help of a second armed guard. Bulkot rode a zebry ahead of us. We were stopping somewhere along the way that there was supposed to be a weapons shop.

We had only traveled a horizon when we saw Bulkot off to the left. Gidat said, “there he is.” He pointed and said, “stay in the greener area, it will be smoother.”

The thicker grass did make for a smoother ride. We drove up to a low ridge that concealed a shallow river on the other side. Bulkot waved us to a place where I stopped the wagon. Bulkot called to me, “we will walk from here. Let Gidat watch the wagon.”

I followed him down the side of the ridge as it became sandstone. We found a level shelf and walked along it to a shallow cave opening. Bulkot picked up a rock from the floor and tapped a code on the cave wall. In a moment, the wall rolled to the side.

Two vuelas, holding weapons ready, met us. The vuelo that rolled the sandstone wheel stepped out. He said, “Bulkot, we are glad to see you. Is this the teamster?”

Bulkot spoke to a vuelo who was behind the vuelas, “Chekt!” It is good to see you! This is Renzt. He has become more valuable to us since we spoke last.”

I stepped to offer my palm to Chekt, noticing that the two vuelas moved to keep their weapons trained on me. We touched palms and I was invited into the cave. We made a sharp turn in a narrow opening and the light became brighter. Chekt called a phrase before we entered a large room. Several vuelos and at least one vuela held weapons ready. This was amazing security. I had not imagined something like this existed. Several of the armed vuelos put down their weapons and continued their work.

Chekt said, looking toward the back of the room, “there is Pagalund.”

“Is it alright to say his name here?”

Chekt smiled, “certainly! You would not be here if you had not been sent by someone we trust.”

A broad, short vuelo came up to me. He spoke to Bulkot while looking at me. “The next time you see your brother, Bulkot, tell him his weapon is ready. Is this the teamster?”

Bulkot said, “I will, Pag. Yes, this is Renzt. He is affiliated with Kregt.”

Pagalund said, “no one else may call me Pag. Understand? Only this prairie wolf.” He nodded at Bulkot.

I offered him my palm, “lo Pagalund, I am impressed.”

Pagalund did not give me his palm, but looked me over.

Bulkot told Pagalund, “Renzt has found something that the Pua will trade for. We believe he will be valuable to us.”

Pagalund now gave me his palm on mine. He said to me, “you seem capable. You have the wagon that Kregt arranged for you to drive?”

I thought he may know more about my work than I knew. “Yes.”

He asked me, “have you looked at the floor of your wagon?”

“Yes, but I believe now that I need to look at it again.” I realized that the floor of my wagon might be more complicated than usual.

Pagalund said, “come with me, lo Renzt. I will demonstrate your wagon bed for you.” He walked off toward a wall. I jumped to follow him as he weaved through tables with pieces of weaponry that was arranged neatly, to allow assembly, probably when all parts were accounted for. We came to a half sized model of a wagon that looked identical to mine. He asked me, “do you recognize this wagon bed, lo Renzt?”

I nodded, saying, “it looks familiar.”

Pagalund asked, “you are carrying vinho and slavuelas in your wagon on this trip?”

I wondered how he knew about the slavuelas. “Yes.”

Pagalund said, “that’s a good thing because the floor will be prevented from lifting up.” He pulled and then lifted the board on the model to reveal six spaces in which something could be carried surreptitiously.

I grasped the floor board, saying, “this is heavier than wood. What is it made of?”

Pagalund said, “it appears to be wood, but it has a resin layer.” He knocked on the board to demonstrate the thickness.

I wanted to know the risk I was assuming. I asked, “who are we hiding the weapons from?”

Pagalund gave me a blank stare. He answered, “everyone. Come, I will show you a weapon that you can use to defend yourself from multiple threats.”

I followed Pagalund back across the cave to the back wall. A firing range of sorts was in this area. A target was dimly lit on the far wall. Four weapons were on a table where we stopped. Pagalund picked up one to demonstrate, telling me, “this is the seven twelve. It triggers seven darts at full force. You can wind and trigger five more. After that, you must perform a full rewind. You must discharge the winding mechanism every six to retain it’s resilience. To discharge without firing, remove the holder.” Pagalund demonstrated this for me. He continued, “you must grasp it this way to trigger accurately.” He held the weapon with a handle in the middle. The weapon rested above his arm up to his elbow. He triggered at the target. Seven darts left the weapon in about three counts. He wound it and handed it to me.

I braced myself and triggered the action. The weapon jerked violently on my arm. Five darts left the mechanism in less than three counts.

Pagalund said, “you will need to hold on with both hands until you become accustomed to the action.”

I said, “I would like one of these. How much deen will purchase one?”

Pagalund looked at me and smiled for the first time. He told me, “this weapon is not for sale. You can carry it as long as you transport weapons. Know that you have superior weaponry than any that may come against you.”

Bulkot and I left Pagalund’s cave shop with six boxes of weapons and darts. Gidat waved to us when we stepped up from the ledge into view, letting us know all was clear. No one would have been expected in this place at this time, still, a hand signal was arranged. I lifted the cover from the wagon bed and took the slavuelas out to use the sand so the weapons could be loaded. I led them to a place far in front of the wagon so they would not see the wagon bed floor being lifted. There was no need of informing them what they were going to be sitting on top of.

Bulkot called, “I will look for you next brightness.” He left for the Cadizan village.

I drove the wagon off toward Larex. I said to Gidat, “we don’t seem to be far from the usual trail.”

He said, pointing to the horizon, “we’re not. When we reach the rise head to the right by a measure.” He looked at my weapon on the bench between us. He asked, “can I look at this?”

I handed him the weapon, “sure.” He said nothing about it. He did not want to inform the slavuelas what might have gone on or that we had new weapons. He did not ask anything at all. When we reached the rise I said, “Sola is bright.”

Gidat said, looking at the sky, “I believe Sola will be bright until the dim. That is because we need the rains.”

I agreed, “I will not complain about the rains, when they come.” This was important to say in the Cadiz. On Vul, I considered myself to be Cadizan though I did not fool anyone in the Cadiz.

Sola was overhead when we stopped to water the zebry and take the slavuelas out to use sand. They had water in the wagon they could drink. They had not spoken this brightness. They were probably nervous about being delivered to the market as slavuelas. The honor of serving their village probably did not seem like such an honor this brightness.

Gidat announced, “we are farther along the trail for Sola to be at mid highness.”

I was glad he knew where we were. I couldn’t tell there was a trail anywhere. I asked, “how can you tell? There is no trail here that I can see.”

He pointed, telling me, “do you see the edge of the forest jungle on the horizon there?”

“Yes.” I could only tell that was what it was because he said that was what it was.

Gidat told me, “that is the beginning of the Larex forests. We see that late in the brightness when we are using dog teams or have walkers with the wagons. We will keep this direction and reach Larex in two or three periods now.”

I called to the zebry and we drove on. Soon, the Larex forests were more easily seen. In another period, we joined a road that led to Larex. A wagon came toward us from Larex. We waved and they waved back. All was well on the road.

Gidat told me, “this is the Cadizan side of Larex. The hijackers do not want to venture here.”

We rolled up to the slavuela market. Gidat stayed with the wagon while I took the tokens for the slavuelas into the market offices. The tokens are simply boo disks with the words for slavuela. Komu Komu was the village they came from. I showed the tokens to a vuela that was at a desk. She checked something in a chart and told me, “take them with these tokens to pen number five, lo vuelo.”

“You are kind.”

She lowered her head to reply, “you are kind, lo vuelo.” I left the office. I wondered if she was, herself, slavuela, or her behavior was the usual behavior for a vuela dealing with vuelos handling slavuelas.

I threw the cover off the wagon bed. My slavuelas looked at me fearfully. Their status was about to become real to them and they knew it. I said to them, “come, scoot!” They scooted out of the wagon. There were wet streaks on the floor where they scooted. Were they that afraid? Apparently so, I thought. I told them, “follow me.” I led them into the slavuela market. The pens were along one side of the yard. These were for receiving new slavuelas such as these, I thought. Each pen had two or three or even four or five slavuelas locked within. Each pen had a board on the front with writing on it. We came to pen number five. I told them into a pen and went in with them to release my cording.

When I stepped out of the pen, a vuelo came up. He said, “tokens.”

I showed him the tokens. He checked the writing and took a marker from his shirt and wrote the word Komu on each of the slavuelas on their chest and backs. He stepped out of the pen and locked the slavuelas inside. He put the tokens on a pin outside the pen and handed me a token with, three Komu written on it.

He said nothing.

“Do I take this to the office?”

He was walking away and called back to me, “yes.”

I called to him, not meaning it, “you are kind.” the vuelo was not friendly at all. At the office, the vuela paid me the nine blue fee for delivering the slavuelas. She lowered her head again to me. I paused until she looked up at me and said, “you are kind.”

I walked out of the market office and looked over at the platform. This was where sales took place. I wondered what the three slavuelas from Komu would look like on that platform. Beside the platform there were six or seven slavuelas kneeling, facing away from the platform. I wondered if they were going up for sale or had not sold. I wanted to go by and look at them but I had business to take care of.

I drove the wagon to the Prairie House, one of the houses of diversion in Larex. An alley beside the house led to the loading dock. The boxes of vinho I carried were unloaded for the Prairie House.

Gidat directed, “take this lane to the left and go to the edge of the village. There is a teamster stable there.”

I took the lane to the left and after a short distance, the stable with fenced pastures appeared on the right. I drove the zebry into the open barn.

Gidat said, “take us all the way in. Yes, this is good.” He raised his hand to signal where to stop. Two vuelos came out and lifted the floor of my wagon and took out the boxes that held weapons. They said nothing. “Drive on.” Gidat pointed to a place that I could unharness the zebry in a pasture. He told me, “when we release the zebry we can take our things and go to the house for the dim.”

“Will someone take care of the wagon?”

Gidat assured me, “someone will take care of everything.”

We walked out of the stable yards and up the lane toward the main lane of Larex. I asked, “is there a slavuela market in other villages around the Cadiz?”

Gidat said, “no. Not around the Cadiz. I know there are several more slavuela markets on Vul.”

“Have you ever looked at the slavuelas being sold?”

He said, “I’ve seen slavuelas sold, yes. There are more private sales than public sales.”

“The slavuelas here in the Larex market, they will be sold in a public sale?”

Gidat told me, “yes, the Larex sales are usually large enough to be public. Sometimes there are competing buyers for a given slavuela.”

We had come to the corner from which the platform was in view. I indicated the line of kneeling vuelas beside the platform. I asked, “those slavuelas lined up there, are they for sale?”

He said, “those are probably random lots, left over from groups that were purchased. They are being displayed so that they might be purchased individually.”

“You are saying that they were rejected?”

Gidat informed me, “they were rejected for some reason. It may have been for some farm chore that required certain experience. Something like that.”

We walked up to the kneeling slavuelas. There were seven of them. The vuelo that had taken my tokens for the slavuelas I delivered earlier came up to the line now. He said to me, “make up your mind. I’ll be taking them in for the dim soon.”

“These are for sale?”

He answered gruffly, “ten blue each.”

A couple of them were at least pretty. They wore little more than a rag. Their wrists were cabled at their waist. A couple of them looked up at me. Then a couple more, then they all looked up at me. Most were wary. One smiled, uncomfortably. One did not look up at all, she only stared forward. She appeared to be concentrating on something. I couldn’t tell if her hair was dark or just dirty. There was a ring of dirt around her neck. I thought this was strange.

I heard a crack of a lash. I was startled along with the slavuelas. The vuelo ordered tersely, “beg to serve!”

The slavuelas all looked at me and began to call to me, “I will serve you.” “I will serve you.” “I will serve you.” “I will serve you.”

The vuelo did not care that the slavuelas begged their purchase or not. He walked away to take care of something else. One of the slavuelas, the one that stared forward, did not beg like the others. I looked more closely at her. She could be the prettiest one in the line, under the dirt. What had she been through? Her eyes began to widen. She seemed to gain awareness. Slowly, she looked up at me and said, “lo vuelo, I - will - serve - you.” Then, she turned her head to her shoulder, spit on her skin and began to rub her chin against her collar bone. It was like she was rubbing something off her skin. She looked back up at me to repeat, “I will serve you.” She repeated the emphasis on the word you. She also leaned her head away from where she had rubbed her chin so that I could not miss what she had rubbed her chin at.

I saw what she was trying to show me. Her message was clear. The sparkle of the crystals in her skin showed through the dirt. These was the same crystals appearing like a necklace that my friends Ua and Aeia had in their skin. She was no slavuela. She was a vuelessa. I looked back into her eyes. I nodded to her. I said, “Gidat, I’m going to buy this slavuela. Make sure no one comes along and takes her.”

Gidat smiled at me, saying, “I will be glad to, Renzt.” He did not understand my attraction, but was cooperative.

In the office I said to the vuela, “the slavuelas in the line by the platform, I wish to buy one.”

She said, “there are three of them that you can have for one blue each, lo vuelo. We are trying to move them to owners.”

I thought this was strange. “Which three of them, why?” Vuel on this planet is strange, I try to gain understanding whenever I am able.

She explained, “we have many slavuelas arriving in the next few brightnesses. The three you can buy for three blue were among the first. Two of them are the ones that have rings of dirt around their necks. Our capacities to deal with the numbers will be strained. We are offering them at a price that will move them quickly, lo vuelo.” She lowered her head to me. Her politeness made up for the total lack of politeness from the vuelo working outside.

I knew the one I was interested in had the dirt ring she described. I put the three blues on her desk. In the vuel of this planet, when someone offers you something at a discount, or tells you how or what you should buy from them, you take their advice or offer. Doing otherwise is thought to show distrust.

She put the deen into a box in her desk and latched the desk shut. She said, “you are kind, lo vuelo. Come, I will have them separated for you.”

We went back outside to the line of slavuelas. The vuela pointed to the exact slavuela that was staring at me. She then pointed to another and a third on the end.

“Yes, la vuela, those will be fine.” I wondered what was going on.

She called the vuelo to come unlatch them for me. The slavuela that spoke to me was still looking into my eyes.

Gidat told me, “she looked after you as you left and has not taken her eyes from you.” He was watching the slavuela as if he could not take his eyes from her.

I pointed to the slavuela that would not take her eyes from me. I told the vuelo, “this one first.” Her stare became more familiar, somehow. It was as if she was remembering me. I was sure now that I had never seen her before, ever.

The vuelo asked, “do you want your leash on her?” This was the first thing he had said that was in normal voice tones.

“No. This slavuela is obedient. Aren’t you?” I looked at her as she was removed from the common cording.

The slavuela I was sure was a vuelessa immediately put her face to the ground at my feet, saying, “I will serve you lo vuelo.”

“Lift your face to me, slavuela.” She did, with a worried look. I asked, “do you know these others?”

I indicated the slavuelas that the vuelo was bringing. She did not move her eyes from mine. She knew exactly which others I was buying. She nodded and smiled, saying, “you are most kind, lo vuelo.”

“Put them on my leash.” I handed the cord to the vuelo.

Gidat asked me, “you have bought three slavuelas. Are you thinking of merchandising slavuelas?” He was not kidding.

“They made me an offer on these that I could not refuse.” I gave the leash that the slavuelas were on to the slavuela the one I selected. I told her, “hold their leash and follow me.”

She said to me, again, “yes, lo vuelo. You are kind, lo vuelo.” She gently tugged the leash that was on the the other two slavuelas and began to follow me.

I looked back at her as we walked away from the market. “You are a vuelessa, aren’t you?” You also seem to know me from somewhere. Have we ever met?” Gidat also looked at her for her response. He was as curious about this slavuela as I was.

She said, “no, lo vuelo. We have never met, though I know your name is Renzt. You are correct that I am a vuelessa and we are both friends of the vuelessa Aeia.”

I stopped in my steps and looked at her. Gidat was thinking this slavuela knew me and I simply did not remember her. I thought the same thing, except, how would she know about Aeia? I looked in her eyes. She knew more. I faced her and shook my head, inviting her to say more.

The vuelessa looked into my eyes. She knew that I wanted to know how she knew these things. She smiled slightly and said to me, “I am supposed to say the word yahoo to you.”

Aeia 1.2

Centium reacts to the recent attack

This story is told by Aeia.

The Centium guards accompany me everywhere these brightnesses. Murgad is with me, also. This is because there is disruption in the vuel of Centium. The truth spread. Other truths spread, also. Those in authority in Centium that were supposed to know the truth were unsure of what had occurred. Many vuelans who were in high positions were not in Centium at all. Where had they all gone? Why did they leave? Few vuelan authorities were trusted. Some of the magistrates had disappeared.

Some vuelans who had been in the plaza on the forty third witnessed Murgad throwing a spike into the chest of the construction superintendent. They saw the superintendent’s head broken open to reveal the strange object that was in his head instead of a vuelan brain. This story took on a life of it’s own.

The public ceremony that was forced by the magistrates to affirm the claims of the vuelessa Aeia had a reassuring effect. The vuelans of Centium were reassured that the gods were close by, and were watching over Vul.

There had been no questions about the flashes of light and the sonic booms that followed moments later. Those things were easy to understand. Those things had happened before. The difference now was the evidence in Centium of an intrusion. The difference now was the evidence of cooperation and, yes, assistance by prominent citizens of Centium. This difference was not understood.

The Tesars were called in from around Vul to help keep order in Centium. This announcement was made public. The Tesars were actually identifying the prominent vuelans that had assisted with the intrusion. Only one of the Tesar rangers would appear at different places within Centium. This gave the appearance that the force was in Centium. The actions that the Tesars were taking outside of Centium was aided by the prominent families themselves. The families weren’t difficult to locate. Their caravans were intercepted on their return to Centium. The vuelans readily identified themselves, thinking that they were identifying themselves to the protected class of vuelans that were not eradicated by the invading Intempla civilization. The details given by these vuelans of what was supposed to have occurred was amazingly horrendous.

One of the Tesar rangers came to Casa Lago to meet me early in the first brightness after the forty third. No one knew who could be trusted. Brand met the ranger at the Lago road. He asked him to wait there. Kerkd held an arrow on the vuelo from the roof lookout.

Brand came and announced to me, “vuelessa, a Tesar ranger who claims to know the vuelessa Ua requests to speak with you.”

I looked at him, “this will be verifiable.” Brand smiled at me. He waited for me to trade thought with Ua: Ua, I need your assistance. Is your consciousness available?

Momentarily, she returned my thought: My Aeia, we are both heartbroken for you. Your sister died in the service of Centium. It seems that I can read her consciousness in you, now. Is that correct?”

Yes. I have accepted her consciousness in mine. She now lives through my mind, and, no, I do not understand this completely. Perhaps Imagination used for creating joy knows how we are able to achieve this?

Her thought returned: He does know. We will explain soon. What can we help with?

You know a Tesar ranger. Tell me how I can confirm his identity.

Ua quickly returned the thought: The Tesar ranger I met is named Dekt. The name he used with the gang he infiltrated was Neloan. Do not speak that name. Ask him only if I knew him by another name. He will think the name.

You are kind. I read Oseio in my mind. You should recognize our brother if this is the Dekt that has come to see you.

I told Brand to ask if Ua knew him by another name, “he will say yes, but do not ask what the name was. I will be able to read the name. Send him up if I step out of the front door.”

Brand left to meet the ranger. He had not reached the vuelo when Dekt began to stream the thought: You were with my sister when she died. That is why I have come. A secret name that your friend Ua knows me by is Neloan.

I thought to myself: Your sister? Oseio, did you say this is our brother?

The ranger was not reading me or answering me. Oseio said she never knew where he was. I rushed out the door, running toward the ranger, who wore the armor panels and weapon belt of the Tesars. He saw me and wondered why I was running to him. Brand had reached the vuelo to ask him the question, ready with his weapon as he spoke. I stopped. I did not want to interfere. I paused, calling, “Brand! It is alright!” He stood aside, watching both of us closely.

The Ranger, my brother, said, “your guards are excellent, vuelessa.” He did not approach me.

I knelt and lowered my head to him in respect. I called to him, “yes, I was with our sister.”

Now, he stepped toward me and asked, “why do you say our sister.?” He was much older than I was. Then, with authority, he asked, “you are a vuelessa, why have you not dropped your ves?”

Brand understood what was going on and looked at me with raised eyebrows.

This was so serious and yet so ridiculous. I told him, “I said our sister because you are my brother, Dekt. Oseio told me about you. She said I would recognize you. I carry her consciousness now.”

Dekt came to me. He didn’t believe me. He challenged, “when we were children, Oseio climbed a boo tree to escape me in a game of chase. What happened to her?”

Oseio’s thought came into my mind to tell me, “you jumped to try to reach her and she climbed so high that the tree bent all the way to the ground and she was able to run away because you were afraid she was going to get hurt.”

Dekt stared at me strangely.

I said to him, “you have always been protective of your sister.” I read this from him now.

He questioned further, “how many annaros do you have? Where were you born? What are our parents names?”

I told him, “I am between eighteen and nineteen annaros. That is as close as I can calculate because I was born on Earth to Robert and Rhonda, known in vuel as Ropet and Ona.”

Dekt was shaking his head slowly, in disbelief. I stood, walked up to him and pushed him in his chest with both hands as hard as I could, saying, “you cabled my friend Ua in a bordo! That was awful!”

Dekt barely stepped back. He smiled and told me, “that is exactly what Oseio would do when she was mad at me.”

I couldn’t believe I had pushed him like that. Suddenly, I begged, “I beg your kindness. I don’t know why I did that.”

He assessed me and said, “you are not Oseio, you are more kind.”

He assessed me though he was my brother, so his assessment was not the same. He looked into my eyes. “I now ask your kindness, my sister. Tell me of Oseio.”

Ua’s thought came to me: He is Dekt. It is alright.

We hugged and I began to cry. The overwhelming emotion of losing a sister that I barely knew and finding a brother I did not know and being unsure of the fate of my world made me hold onto him for some time.

I sensed Gald behind me. I said through my tears, “lo Dekt, this is my amoro, lo Gald.” I turned to look at Gald and told him, “this is my brother, Dekt.”

Gald welcomed him, “we are glad to see you, lo Dekt.”

I read that Dekt was concerned for the recent occurrences. I took Dekt’s hand along with Gald’s and said, “come with us, Dekt, we must speak of many things.”

On the casa patio, E’ella and V’aya served jav and breads. I described the details of what happened on the plaza for him, including every difficult detail. The transfer of Oseio’s consciousness was calming for him, as it was for me. He was surprised to know that Murgad was protecting me. He was told this already, but had doubted the veracity of the report. The doubt went away when Murgad came to the patio. They knew each other from long ago. It was shown, once again, that I was the only vuelan that did not know who Murgad was when I hired him.

Dekt said to us, carefully, “it is reported that the gods who came and burned the railway on the plaza came from this direction. I am beginning to believe that no gods were involved.”

Gald and I glanced at each other. Gald said, “what do the vuelans of Centium think?”

Dekt hesitated before telling us, “they believe the gods burned the structure.” He took a sip of his jav and asked, “which god were you, lo Gald?”

I said, in a way that told him to stop asking about things he may not want to know, “he was one of many, my Dekt.”

He smiled at me, “I will leave it at that. Though, I would like to know about the floating block.”

V’aya was near the table. I looked at her. She knew what I wanted to ask and told me, “no, my vuelessa, they are not up yet. They are resuming their mionomog.”

I said in explanation, “our business partner, lo Kregt assisted. He and his espa interrupted their mionomog to assist with the effort.”

Dekt motioned to the properties of the hacienda and asked, “lo Gald, I know of your holdings in the Permian region. Is this hacienda yours also?”

Gald said, proudly, I thought, “this was all built by my amora and her friend lo Kregt.”

Dekt announced, “I not only have a sister, I have a rich sister.”

Gald added, “and famous. It is her likeness that is on the banners in Centium.”

Dekt looked at me. He asked, “you are that Aeia?”

My Gald smiled at this. I acknowledged his pride in me.

Dekt said, “I have not been in Centium enough. And now I must return.” He stood up to leave.

Gald stood with him and I followed. I asked, “when will I see you again, Dekt?”

He explained, “the Tesars are being brought into this region from around Vul. There are matters to be dealt with. You will see me or another ranger at all times for the foreseeable future. Your safety is a concern. Murgad is a great deterrent, I am sure. In Centium it is believed that you know the gods who are responsible for the destruction of the plaza railway which prevented the amber crystal from being placed in position. The remnants of the vuelans that wanted to cause the destruction of vuel will try to kill you, we believe.”

Murgad asked Dekt, “Do you think the prominent families that left or sold off their estates are going to come back when they realize nothing happened?”

I read that Gald was wondering this too.

Dekt looked at me, “you are going to read everything so I will keep nothing secret. We have an informant. He has given us the locations where the vuelans were supposed to be protected from the brain killing wave. We are sending rangers to those locations.” He looked at me as if to ask if that was all I read.

“Yes, except the name of your informant.”

Dekt wondered how I would know this. I told him, “your informant’s name is Damok. He came to me before the attack. He wanted information from me. When Captain Zhodag talked to me and lo Kregt, he asked me to try to get him to take me to one of these places.”

Dekt showed high interest in this person, asking, “did Damok come to you again?”

“No.” I looked at Gald and Murgad, who waited through that dim with me and continued, “I was sure he would return, but he never did.” I read from Dekt that Damok had become an informant before the attack and he wondered if I had influenced him. I added, “I made sure he experienced the greatest pleasure a vuelan male can receive. Perhaps.” I stopped and looked at Gald, he gave me an approving expression. I lowered my eyes to Gald for his kindness.

Kregt came to the patio with Eloe. She had read what was going on and told Kregt. They appeared to have been in amorig. V’aya came to them quickly with cups of jav.

I introduced them to my brother, “Dekt, this is my business partner and friend, Kregt of the Cadizan, and his espa, Eloe.”

Dekt offered his palm to Kregt, saying, “I have heard of you and am glad to meet you, and your espa.” He addressed Eloe, “you must be a vuelessa, also?”

Eloe lowered her head and said, “you are too kind, lo vuelo. I am not a vuelessa, only an espa.”

Dekt paused now and looked from me to Gald to Kregt. He said, “I am beginning to understand what occurred the dim of the forty second. I don’t think that the Resjed were involved at all with the destruction of the railway.”

Kregt and Eloe casually sat down at the table and bit into some pastries with their jav.

Dekt continued, “you understand that vuelans in Centium believe that the red gods destroyed the railway and that belief should not be disturbed.”

Gald spoke up, “that is what we believe.” He looked at each of us and we all nodded.

Dekt smiled for a moment. He asked, “If I look for the floating block in the gas marshes, will I find it?” His gaze stopped on Kregt and Eloe.

Kregt said to him, “the block is known to sink and reappear from time to time.” It was the truth.

Dekt did not want to ask the next question., saying, “I will leave the matter as it is understood. May I know that the common understanding of the occurrences of the dim of the forty second will remain?”

Kregt answered first, “yes, lo Dekt, and you are to be commended for your service to Vuel.” We all agreed.

I decided that this discussion needed to end. I told Dekt, “I must go into Centium to meet with the council of commerce. Can I give you a ride?” I was unaware of what transportation he used to come here.

We met a cart carrying two other of Dekt’s fellow rangers when we reached the Camino Rio. Dekt went with that cart and one of those rangers came with us. That ranger, Towg, introduced himself and told me that I was not to be out of his sight. He wore the body armor of the Tesar ranger. This is a slatted panel over the chest and back. On the back panel a hook holds a helmet that is worn in combat situations. He carried the same weapon that my brother carried.

He addressed me and Gald, “my Vuelessa, Lo Dekt honors me with this assignment.” Then he turned his attention to Murgad, asking, “you are lo Murgad?”

Murgad seemed surprised that Towg would know him. “Yes.”

Towg told Murgad, “the kids I played with, the vuelitos, we would draw to see who got to be Murgad in our fighting games. The one who played Murgad always got to win.”

Murgad smiled as Towg continued, “Your Murgad had a better winning record than I did.”

Towg said, “I have already been informed of your spike being used on the plaza to kill the construction superintendent. We examined his weapon and determined that he would have killed many more than the vuelessa.” Towg looked at me and said, “my regrets for your loss, my vuelessa.”

“You are kind, lo Towg.”

He said to me, “it is my understanding that you are related to the family of Dekt and Oseio.”

“Yes, I was surprised to learn that I am their younger sister.” I went on to explain, “My parents told me nothing about them.”

Towg said, “Dekt was going to send two of us to protect you. When he found out that Murgad is with you, he realized that one ranger would be adequet.”

The traffic on the lanes seemed normal for this time of day as we went through the outskirts of Centium. Activity increased as we drove closer to the plaza. There would usually be a sprinkling of vuelans in the plaza. Over the last many brightnesses there had been more than the usual crowd due to the construction of the obelisk. This brightness, the crowd near the planks was over a hundred vuelans compared to only around twenty that were usually in the area.

Towg told us, “This crowd began to form early this brightness. Dekt was simply going to meet you here and realized he would not be able to speak to you with the crowd being this large. That is why he went to your hacienda.”

“Why do you think the crowd is here, lo Towg?” Immediately I felt stupid for asking.

Towg said, “they are here to see you, my vuelessa.” He added my to show his respect to the title of vuelessa. I read from him that he did this as much for Dekt as he did it for me.

I said, “surely they are not here to see me. It is the spectacle that has drawn the crowd.” I heard shouting now and read from the vuelans that many of them were here to see me. I read concern from Murgad and Towg. Tuhukt stopped the cart in the lane and the crowd moved toward us.

Someone in the crowd called, “Aeia! Tell us what happened!”

Another in the crowd called, “vuelessa, you know what happened. Tell us.”

A vuela in the front of the crowd with a child called to me, “Aeia, was Oseio your sister? Do you know the gods?”

Towg put his helmet on and stepped out of the cart. He announced with authority, “Kindness, allow the vuelessa to move to the planks.”

The crowd gave us room to move forward but continued to call questions out to me. I called for all to hear, “I will answer all of your questions after I have gone to the planks. If you will kindly allow, I will come answer you.” What was I going to tell them?

One called, “we will wait, vuelessa.”

Another said, “Aeia’s concern for those on the planks does not waiver.”

I moved through the crowd. Towg moved ahead of me. Murgad held my arm from behind me. I touched Murgad’s hand to let him know I was comforted by his hand. The crowd was large and took time to pass through. When we cleared the vuelans I saw a tall vuelo who had folded himself up on the planks. The length of his legs told me he must be a head and a half taller than I was. I had been in classes on Earth with athletes that I knew were over seven feet tall. That had to be this vuelo’s height. I leaned down when I reached him and saw the blue residue on his skin.

Before I could ask in a whisper if he spoke English, he looked at me and said, softly, “Are you Aeia?”

The voice was too soft to be that of a vuelo, then the long legs parted slightly. This was not a male. Now I saw that her face was feminine, large, but feminine. She repeated, “Are you.”

I said quickly, “yes, I am Aeia.” Her language was broken. She could speak little vuelan. She spoke enough vuelan to make me understand. She spoke enough vuelan to know about me. I whispered, “do you speak English?”

She expected me to ask this, answering, “yes.” I read that someone had told her about me.

I whispered, “I will get you out of here. Be calm.”

When I went to the table to pay the fee for the tall vuela the magistrates clerk stood up behind the table and lowered her head to me. Towg was beside me. I looked at him. He questioned what this was about the same as I did.

The clerk lifted her head to me and announced, “I am not to accept payment from you, vuelessa, take the vuela with you.” She sat back at her table, nodding to the guard to release the vuela. She smiled at me pleasantly.

I said, “you are kind,” and went back to the planks. I whispered to the vuela to go with my Gald. That he would take her to a wagon.

Someone called, “vuelessa, we beg your attention.”

A young vuela called, “Aeia, you are beautiful. Tell us what is occurring.”

There was no way around this. These vuelans deserved the truth. I would tell them all I could. I walked before them and knelt. My ves dropped to the plaza. I put my foot out in front of me and rose up. I looked across the crowd and said loudly enough for all to hear, “I will serve you.”

The reaction brought deep emotion. They had been curious and anxious. Now I read relief. They wanted to trust what I said. I stood before them as a vuelessa, hiding nothing. They wanted me to tell them the truth. I asked, “what have you been told has happened here?”

These shouted out, “Vul was attacked.” “They wanted to kill us all.” “The red gods came from your hacienda.” “You sent the red gods.” “You learned of the attack and stopped it.” “Tell us who did this!”

I lifted my hands, my palms facing them. They stopped yelling things. I told them, “all you are saying is true, except that I did not order the gods to destroy the railway.” This was true.

Someone called, “the vuelessa will never accept credit for her actions on behalf of vuel.”

Others called out, “they did come from your hacienda.” “They were seen coming from that direction.” “They were seen returning there.”

I held my palms up to them again and said, “you are giving me credit for things that others did. You should also know that destroying the railway was not all that took place.” Everyone was listening now. I continued, “the construction crew was kept away so they would not defend the railway. Someone provided slavuelas to entertain them through the dim.” I thought this would give them something else to consider. For a moment, it did.

A vuelo called out, “you know these things because you know the gods.”

Another called out, “tell us why the gods let invaders come close to destroying us.”

“The success of the invaders is being investigated by the Tesar rangers.” I motioned to Towg. “Those details will become known soon. I am as anxious for that truth as you are.”

A vuela called, “tell us what you know, vuelessa, be kind to tell us.” Many echoed this request.

I paused to take a long breath and consider what to say. I looked up at them and said, “my sister was Oseio, the elder vuelessa. She was trying to contact the red gods also. It was she who was killed by the construction superintendent. The superintendent was no longer vuelan. His body was taken over by the invaders. This was revealed when his skull was broken open.”

This information brought reaction. The blood stain on the plaza was evidence of this occurrence.

I continued, “one of the red gods came to my hacienda the previous six because the invaders were trying to contact me. The red gods wanted my help and I cooperated in every way I was able.”

The crowd was listening intently. I said, “the invaders never contacted me, but others that I know began to learn about the invaders plot.”

Many vuelans called out the question, “the others that are known to you, are they gods?”

Firmly, I said, “the others I speak of are vuelans that risk their lives for vuel.” I didn’t know where that came from. I motioned to Towg again. “The Tesar rangers are such vuelans.”

A vuelo asked, “they are like you?”

The vuelo that asked that was sincere. I stepped up to him while I thought, how different was this world. I was naked in front of this vuelo. He assessed me seriously. I waited until his eyes came back to mine. I completely owned his thought. This was what I was trained for. I am a vuelessa. My beauty and charisma will be used to affect vuel.

I looked deep into his eyes and said, “I suspect, lo vuelo, that they are also much like you.” I stepped back and addressed the crowd. I called, “who among you would not risk your life for those you love? Who among you, when presented with danger, would do anything in your power to prevent harm to vuelans you may or may not know?”

A vuelasel said, “these gods, they did it for you, vuelessa!”

“That is true, vuelasel. That is my only function. I am only a vuelessa. I can only influence. I can inspire. I tell the truth when the truth is scarce. Yes. I encouraged them to do this and promised them that they would be successful.”

A vuelo called the question, “you directed the gods themselves?”

“There may have been a god involved. Two of the group that formed that dim came to the hacienda on a kind of transport.” It was the truth. I read that everyone believed this. I also read the Towg was paying close attention.

The vuelo in front of me said to everyone, “the vuelessa cannot lie to us. She is telling all that she knows.”

Various questions were called from the crowd. “Are the gods still at your hacienda?” “What do they look like?” “Are they sure the invaders are gone from Vul?”

“I expect to have further visits from the gods in the future.” I did expect to see the Resjed, Zhodag again.

The vuelo in front of me called to everyone, “The vuelessa lost her sister last brightness and we have delayed her from her mission for Centium.”

I announced to the crowd, “you are all kind. I am expected at the council of commerce. I will always answer your questions and I will always serve you.”

Many of them called, “will you always come back here, vuelessa?” “Will we see you later this brightness” “Will we see you next brightness?”

These vuelans trusted me. I was the part of vuel that was stable for them. I called to them, “I will leave from the commerce building. I don’t know how long the meeting will take. Yes, I will return every brightness that I am able.”

I turned to go. Murgad handed me my ves. Vuelans called from the crowd, “watch out for her, Murgad.” “She is safe with Murgad.”

Vuelans had gathered in the area of the commerce building steps when Towg, Murgad and I arrived. They called to me, “Vuelessa, accept our kindness for your loss.” “Vuelessa, we, too, loved Oseio.” I reached the top step and turned to face them. My tears did not allow me to speak.

Towg noticed my distress and stepped before me, calling out to them, “the vuelessa Aeia acknowledges your kindness.”

I waved to the gathering and turned to go into the building. Inside, I recognized the council members Mald and Ralt. They waited at the door of the council hall where we had met before.

They both said to me, “vuelessa, may we once again extend the regrets of Centium for your sister vuelessa.” They opened their palms to me and I embraced them both. Mald said, “we saw you addressing the vuelans across the plaza and we commend your for your bravery.”

They ushered me into the chamber. In the middle of the room was a bench with Oseio’s body, covered with leaves. Oseio’s thought came to me: BE STRONG Aeia. I am not in that heap of brush. I am with you.

I took a deep breath and said to everyone in the council, “you are all kind.” I was seated and a proclamation reading began. It listed accomplishment after accomplishment that Oseio had in her life. Oseio’s achievements began almost thirty annaros ago. She must have achieved leadership status in Centium over twenty annaros ago. The reading went on for part of a period and it became obvious that it would be a long time before it ended.

Oseio’s thought again came to me so forcefully that I stood up and announced, “In your kindness, stop reading this list before someone expires of tedium! Osieo’s consciousness implores that this end.” I looked at the council members. There were many others in attendance that I did not recognize.

Digan, the council member that had been reading the list smiled at me. I read that he was relieved at something. He announced to the members, “the transfer of Oseio’s consciousness is assured.”

I didn’t understand what happened. My mind opened. Everyone was relieved and a happiness began to pervade the chamber. Digan put down the list and held his palms out to me and said, “we were waiting for Oseio to announce herself through you. You have shown that her consciousness did transfer to you. We are joyful for this occurrence.”

The council members stood and said ahs to me. I looked to them and asked, “you know that she transferred her consciousness to me?”

Mald spoke up, “we were depending on such a transfer of consciousness, Aeia.”

Digan announced, “I submit the vuelessa Aeia to replace the vuelessa Oseio in the council of commerce.”

Everyone in the chamber called Ah! I looked to Nargut. He did not smile, but nodded his approval to me.

Later, the council meeting became an exigency meeting about the thwarted invasion. I concentrated on the members. Everyone that was a regular member was here. All the members in the meeting were of the same thought: There had been treachery at the highest levels of Centium’s officials. I read of a place where communication was possible with the Resjed. It was a room in which few vuelans had access. I read that there was a kind of radio there. This thought may have come from Oseio’s consciousness. The more I listened and read thought from the council members I realized that I was comparing the information with Oseio’s memory. I remembered historical things from long before I was born. It was like I had a textbook from the internet in my mind.

The discussion continued for most of a period when a thought came into my mind. I had been understanding little of the discussion when the name Pargud occurred to me. I put my hand on Tallan’s arm. He asked me what I was thinking.

I asked, “who is Pargud?”

Nargut, who was near, answered, “Pargud has been missing since the forty second.”

Tallan asked, “are you sure?”

Ralt said, “I haven’t seen him since then, either.”

Nargut asked, “what brought that name to your mind, vuelessa?”

I tried to concentrate. I asked, “does he have the ability to access the communicator to the Resjed?”

They all looked at me. Nargut held his palms up to me and turned to the council, saying to them, “we must assume that she knows everything that Oseio knew.”

The meeting swiftly broke up with the council members taking small bits of information with them. Towg had been instrumental in the discussions, acting as liaison for the Tesar rangers as well as my protector. Murgad was asked several questions about vuelans he knew and properties those vuelans owned.

The council authorized the Centium guard to assist the Tesar rangers with any assistance necessary. I asked Murgad how large the Centium guard is.

He told me, “I believe they number in the hundreds, vuelessa, if all are called into action. I am sure they will all be called up for this situation.”

I received thought from Ua: We have received information that the Intempla have left this part of the galaxy. Fafoaloan sensing is reading that the entire invasion apparatus has been abandoned or destroyed.

I thought back to her and Imagination used for creating joy: This feels too simple. Are the Fafoaloans sure of this?

Imagination used for creating joy answered: This is typical of the Intempla civilization. If resistance is met, they retreat. They will use their energies and efforts on another planet now.

Ua thought to me: Aeia, we are going to Fafoaloa soon. We believe the situation on Vul to be safe. We will return in a few sixes. Loa!

I amor you both!

This thought conversation had taken only a breath to take place. We were walking out of the building and down the steps of the commerce building. Many of the vuelans that had wanted information from me earlier and others were waiteingon the steps. “What did the council do, vuelessa?” “Tell us the danger” “Are we still in danger?”

I walked up to them while telling Towg and Murgad what Ua and Imagination used for creating joy had sent to me. I announced to the crowd, “the danger has passed. The invaders have been destroyed or they have retreated from Vul.” I read relief as this message was relayed throughout the crowd.

The crowd called in anger, “what about the traitors?” “Are the traitors being executed?” “Yes! Kill the traitors!”

I lifted my palms to them to say, “I understand your anger. Allow the Tesar rangers and the Centium guard to detain the traitors and get all the information from them that can be obtained.”

Many in the crowd called out, “the vuelessa is right.” “Yes, we must learn from this.” “We must learn what they did and then impale them!” “Yes, then we can impale them!” “Impale them on stakes made from the poles from the railway!” They were angry and they deserved to be angry.

I went to the vuelo that was yelling louder than anyone else and knelt before him. I looked up at him and said, “lo vuelo, do not become so angry that you cannot enjoy vuel.” I looked into his eyes. He paused his anger. I stood up, we were of similar height. I touched his arm and read that he calmed significantly.

I turned to face the crowd to say, “the magistrates will decide the fate of the traitors. That is vuel!”

The crowd called, “that is vuel.” “Yes, that is vuel” “It is vuel for the magistrates to impale them!” “That would be vuel!”

“You are all kind!” I called to the crowd. I nodded to Murgad and Towg that we should proceed to the lane to meet Tuhukt with the wagon.

The vuelasel that spoke to me earlier called out to me, “tell those that destroyed the railway that we extend our kindness to them!”

Several vuelans in the crowd called out, “kindness to Aeia’s gods!” “Kindness to the gods of Aeia!”

The mood of the crowd had become much lighter. I raised my palms to them and called, “I will them you sent your kindness. When I tell them you called them gods and they will laugh!”

A vuelo with a good memory asked, “what about the two that came to you on a transport? Will they laugh?”

I found his face in the crowd and read that he had asked the question. I pointed to him, “I will let you know if they do!”

We reached the wagon and took the lane out of the plaza. The vuelans on the plaza continued to talk to each other and consider the past brightnesses occurrences.

They called to me as we drove along the lane, “Aeia!” “Aeia!” I waved to them.

Some vuelas called to me, “Aeia, you are beautiful!”

I found their faces in the crowd and called to them, “you are all beautiful, vuelas!” I thought to myself: Maybe vuel will return to normal in the coming brightnesses.

On the ride back to Casa Lago I spoke with the tall vuela. Her name would become Lia. She told me of a fairy tale that she loved as a child that seemed so real now. I didn’t want to go into my story with her yet. I let her tell me everything she could. It seemed that her parents knew of Vul also. I wondered if they knew my parents. She was on a transport with ten or twelve other vuelas. The transport did not go to Pleasance, though. It went to a place on the sea. I wondered if this was the Great Bay area. Her language was not intelligible in vuelan. I read her thoughts to fill in her descriptions. Her thoughts also told me things she did not describe: The vuelas on the transport with her were all beautiful. She felt out of place in the group.

I said this to her in vuelan and in English, “Lia, try to remember, did anyone use the term “Domesticate or Pleasance when you were being put into groups?”

She paused to think. I read that someone did say those words to her. She said, “I, I think I do remember that word.” She also began remembering other details about what was said while they were being loaded into the transport. She continued, “we were unloaded and put on display. It was as if we were being chosen by vuelen and distributed to them.”

I read that she did not perceive this as a market, but simply a distribution system. It was probably a market. Then I read a name: Dotap. This name was used many times in the market. Then the words marketa de mer came into her thinking. I jogged her memory for her, “do you remember something of the marketa de mer?”

She said, with relief, “that was the name!” She tried to remember other details. She said, “the vuelos said to us many times that lo vuelo Doap would be pleased. Lo vuelo Doap would be pleased.”

Her pronunciation was barely intelligible. I asked, “was that name lo Dotap?”

Lia said, “yes! Yes, that was the vuelo!” She smiled at her recollections.

E’ella and V’aya met us as we drove up to the hacienda. They knew what to do for Lia, until she stepped out of the cart and stood up to her full height. I was taller than E’ella and V’aya by a head. Lia was taller than I was by a head. She towered over E’ella and V’aya. Still, they took her by her hands and led her inside. Lia looked back at me and mouthed, “kindness,” to me. I read that she was as relieved as she was grateful. We would have to create a ves for her, I thought to myself.

My amoro came to me. “My Gald, are you in need of vinho as much as I?”

He predicted, “possibly not as much, my amora. We should find bottles and chalices on the patio.”

“I could use a swim, could you amoro?”

He suggested, “we can have vinho by the pool!”

Towg looked anxious. I asked, “Towg, do you swim?”

He replied, “you are kind my vuelessa, but I am looking for Dekt to arrive soon. He will be relieving me.”

“You are kind, lo Towg. Will I see you again?”

Towg said, “I will request such, my vuelessa.” He nodded his head to me.

The pool was an oasis for me this late brightness. Kregt and Eloe were there. They read the distress of my day and nodded to me while saying nothing as I pulled off my ves and went into the pool. Gald came out wearing the swimsuit that Kregt gave him. I understood why the vuelen wanted to wear swimsuits though the suits did little to hide the frequent erections they experienced. Perhaps the suits were a good idea.

When Gald and I came out of the pool, Kregt asked. “Aeia, am I understanding that Dekt is your brother?”

Eloe had read the details from my thoughts. “Yes, Oseio told me of a brother named Dekt who was with the Tesars. Dekt did not know this when he showed up here this brightness. Oseio never had the opportunity to tell him.”

Kregt was trying to put the details together. He asked, “your parents had a family and then went to Earth where you were born?”

I nodded and said, “that is my understanding, but there must be something wrong with the chronology. The time differences don’t seem correct. Oseio appeared to be older than I am calculating.” I read from Kregt now that he was wondering how long the voyage was from Earth and if the coating on our skin had to do with slowing our metabolism.

I looked over to where the floating block was tied up. I said to Kregt, “you have hidden the block well.” I looked again and asked, “is it still there?” I looked at Gald. I read from him that it was not in that location, but further over, where it could be better concealed. I told them, “well, you’ve done a fine job. I know it’s somewhere but I can’t see it at all.”

Kregt said, “Gald, you were right, the new place is deceptively out of sight.”

I sent thought to Eloe: Are you and Kregt going back to Pleasance to pick up where you left off?

She returned my thought: We may. We want to make sure things are alright here, first.

We relaxed and enjoyed the vinho for more than a period until V’aya came out to tell us that dim comida would be served soon. Kregt expressed kindness to her for this.

V’aya addressed me separately, “my vuelessa.”

I read concern and lifted up on my elbow to answer, “yes, V’aya.”

She said, “lo Dekt and two others are coming up to the casa.”

I grabbed my ves and ran to the front of the casa to meet my brother. When I went through the door he and his rangers were walking up the drive. I rushed to them and dropped to my knees. Leaving my ves on the ground, I lifted to present myself as vuelessa to them. As I rose, Dekt’s eyes met mine with pure gratitude. His companions were impressed. I read pleasure from them with my presentation. I ran to Dekt and embraced him. I said through tears of joy, “my brother, I amor you.” Then, I hugged his companions who returned my embrace, uncomfortably I thought.

Dekt introduced his fellow rangers Lorkat and Wegt, and requested that I treat them like my brothers, also. Wegt, who appeared to be Dekt’s age said, “we ask your kindness vuelessa, we are not often embraced by a beautiful vuelessa.”

Lorkat added, “often, Wegt? I am trying to think of the only other time.”

I put my ves on and told them, “come, you are all my brothers this dim.”

The dim comida was served on the patio. E’ella set a large table so that Dekt and his rangers, Murgad or Brand and Kregt and Eloe and Gald and I were seated at the table. The other tables were next to us. Kregt and I always agreed that we would have no secrets from the residents of casa lago.

The occurrences of the past six were discussed over the meal with generous amounts of vinho. Dekt had not revealed the information he and his rangers had gathered from those that had shown themselves. Kregt waited, though I could tell he was anxious to find out, to ask about what they were finding.

Late into the dim, Dekt opened up about the vuelans they were finding. I had been reading this from him for awhile now and wondering if the thoughts were valid because they were so unreal. He looked at us with a pained expression and said, “these vuelans approved of killing everyone.” He stopped his description at this point as if he could not continue. I read complete despair from him. Then he looked at Wegt and Lorkat for concurrence before he continued, “they didn’t care that everyone was going to die.” His companions nodded in agreement with his assessment. He added, “they walked out to the Camino Rio and asked us if we had cleared the bodies from the roads. They thought we were part of the plan because we were alive.”

Dekt said this and looked at his fellow rangers and then to us. I read from them that they were only now believing what they had seen.

It had taken until late into the dim for these events to be described by the Tesar rangers. When Gald and I were back in my rooms he asked me, “what else did you read from them?”

I thought for a moment. All I could say was, “uncertainty.” Before I fell asleep I read from Gald that he was as happy to be with me as I was to have him sleeping with me.

My dreams were not of the occurrences of the previous brightnesses but of things I had never experienced. I was playing with a vuela in a field by a creek. We had dolls made of grass. I asked her who she was. “Osi” was her name. She asked me what my name was. “Alecia.” I told her. “Let’s be friends forever.” Osi said to me in the dream.

I remembered saying to her, “Okay!”

I heard Gald say, “Aeia, you are saying okay. What is okay?”

I touched him, “it was a dream, my amoro.” I wondered if he wanted to amorig.

There was an impatient knock at our door. We heard V’aya call, “vuelessa, lo Gald! Vuelessa, lo Gald!”

I read urgency and grabbed Gald and bessed him before I said, “better see what is the matter.”

Gald let V’aya in. She lowered her head quickly and said, “my vuelessa, they want you on the roof lookout.” Then she hurried back out of the door.

Gald and I wondered what was going on. I tried to get thoughts. The thoughts I received did not make sense to me. I slipped a ves on, “I can’t tell what it is, we’d better go see.”

Gald asked, “you are not reading anything?”

“The thoughts do not make sense.” When I said it I became more concerned. We reached the ramp to the roof and climbed to the lookout.

Dekt was there with Murgad. They both looked at me with concern. I asked them, “what?”

They pointed toward the Lago road where the casa drive forks away. I looked over the wall and pushed back, losing my grip. Gald caught me. His expression told me that he also saw what I saw. There were hundreds of vuelans on the lawns of Casa Lago staring toward the casa.

I asked Murgad and Dekt, “what are all those vuelans doing here? What do they want?”

Murgad glanced at Dekt, wanting him to answer me.

Dekt said slowly and deliberately, “my vuelessa, they want you.”

Loee .2

I am trained

This story is told by Loee.

Viya woke me the next brightness. I did not sleep that much over the dim. We first went to the room where the trainees are usually kept. It was a comfortable looking room that looked much like any dormitory you would see. There was an area for eating and sleeping. Then I saw a long trench with sand. I asked, “Is that where?”

Viya interrupted me, “I told you they are treated like farm animals, come, I need to feed you something.” She led me to the feeding area and filled a bowl with pellets. She said, “here you are, take your time.”

I chewed one of the pellets. It was crunchy with soft places that were juicy. I tried another. It tasted like steak. Another tasted like green onions. I asked, “is this what the trainees are fed? This tastes good!”

Viya took a pellet from my bowl and popped it in her mouth. She acted surprised, saying, “this is good! I haven’t eaten one of these for a long time.”

I crunched and chewed the pellets. Water was in the bowl and was soaked up partially by the pellets. I seemed to become more hungry as I chewed the pellets down. I asked, “do the trainees like these pellets?”

Viya laughed, “they guttle them down like puerkos.”

I knew puerko was the word for pig since I had worked on a farm already. I stopped munching and put my hand on my mouth and mumbled. “I am not guttling them, am I?”

Viya threw her head back and laughed. “Yes!, but it is alright Loee. That is why I put the pellets in a bowl for you. Do you see that trough by the wall?”

She pointed toward a long railing that I noticed was actually a narrow trough. I said, “yes.”

Viya told me, “we fill that trough and they eat out of it just like little puerkos. It is fun to watch!” she enjoyed telling me this. I finished my pellets more slowly.

“I do not have a ves. I am thinking that is another thing the trainees must endure.”

Viya smiled at this. She chirped, “you will not need a ves for today’s training. Let’s go to the training room and get started!”

We started with a review of the numbers and simple arithmetic, weights and measures. The distances on Vul were not exact, as I have already described. I thought this was because people simply guessed about distances. Viya informed me that the inaccuracy in a given distance is normal in vuel. The other measures described were those that were similar to a liter or a gallon or a cup. One official measurement is the bottle. I was sure that this had to do with the vinho bottle. Vuel has it’s good points.

In a period we took a break. I was sure Vaya was about to present the vuela sexual response, as she had said last dim.

I said, “I am ready, Viya, will you teach me about the vuela sexual response?” I wanted her to go ahead and begin the subject.

She took my hand as she said, “come, Loee, sit on the lounge with me. Sit back and get comfortable. Last brightness you said one of the vuelos in the farm came to use you again and again. Do you think he had feelings for you?”

I thought this was a strange question. “No, I didn’t think that. I think it was only that he liked to use me.”

Viya thought for a moment. I read that she was about to demonstrate something. She said, “lie back and relax, Loee. I’m going to see how much muscle tone you have.” I tried to relax. I was sure that I knew what she was going to do.

She said, “that’s it.” She rubbed my clitoral area masterfully. Maybe I was ready for stimulation because I felt my back arch and my legs move apart. I read from her that I had aroused easily. She moved her fingers to my vagina and found the moisture there. I was already wet? I read her thought: Let my fingers push into you. I could not have stopped her penetration. I felt her fingers inside me. I read her thought: Contract around my fingers Loee, squeeze for me. I flexed around her fingers.

Viya said, “LOEE! It is no wonder the farm vuelos wanted to use you! You are so strong! I am surprised that you did not squeeze one of their penises off!”

I relaxed my hold on her fingers, saying, “kindness maiden!” I addressed her as my superior. She had not told me how to address her. I did this with respect.

She said, “no, Loee, you are wonderful. You are advanced beyond what we look for in a trainee.” Viya took her fingers out of me and cleaned her hand with a loe stem and gave me one, saying. “here you are. Let’s go out to the pools, you can swim and I will inform the instructor of your abilities.”

On the way to the pools I asked Viya, “would the usual training have spent some periods teaching vuelas how to tighten around the penis?”

Viya made a funny noise with her lips before she said, “we have great difficulty teaching this to some vuelas. They feel a penis in their vagina and they become completely submissive. A vuelessa uses her abilities to determine the vuelo’s pleasure and longevity in order to influence his actions.”

I didn’t understand what Viya was saying, but I decided to go swimming and think about it. The pools are wonderful here. The water feels soft. It is a little salty. The saltiness is probably what is used to clean the water. The pool waters circulate somehow through the fountains and the swimming pools. I have no idea how this is done. They same system is used at Casa Lago by Aeia and Kregt, so it must be a common technology on Vul. The light in the training room and dormitory is from light crystals. I have asked how these crystals work and the simple answer given was that they emit stored light, whatever that means. The vuelans I have asked about the crystals give this explanation as a full description of how the crystals work, as if crystal rocks are supposed to emit light. Vul is so different. Vuel is so different from life on Earth. I’m swimming without a swimsuit and it feels normal. I’m training for, well, I’m actually not sure yet, what I am training for.

I thought to myself: This water feels wonderful. I relaxed more and began to read thoughts from Viya and the instructor. They were discussing me. There was an assignment that I was supposed to be sent to and that assignment was being reconsidered. They were going to send me to an assignment that required higher level skills. I wondered: Which of my skills they thought were of a higher level? Why does the instructor not use her name?

I swam some more, then stepped out of the pool and laid on a lounger to receive Sola. This is the way vuelans say this. They receive Sola. Sola is thought of as a deity in Vuel. Vuelans respect Sola and refer to Sola often. This seems appropriate, I was beginning to do this also. My swim removed some stress from the brightness and I slipped into a short nap. While I dozed the thought came to me: Loee, when you finish your nap, come into the training room.

I sat up, my eyes were wide open. I looked around me. Certainly Viya was standing here. No, she wasn’t. I was alone by the pools. The message was clear, though. I thought back to her: I’m on my way, maiden.

In the training room, Viya said in her usual happy voice, “there you are! The instructor and I discussed your assignment and we believe that you are advanced enough to take on a more complicated assignment.” She paused and looked at me. I could read that she was asking me if I knew this.

I thought to her: Yes, maiden, I read such while I was swimming. Asked her, “Do you and the instructor actually think I am advanced?”

Viya came close to me, putting her hands on my waist. She assessed me, stopping at my eyes. She said, “you are a vision, Loee. There is a task that requires skills and presentations that you have.”

She said this while thinking: You have attributes and abilities that are as good as we have ever trained. “Come over here, we’re going to teach you peremptory amorig.”

I knew that amorig was coitus. The word Viya used for which I am giving the word peremptory meant nothing to me. I asked, “maiden?”

Viya laughed, saying, “we are going to teach you to control the vuelo with his penis!”

I was astonished. I asked, “you can, I mean, we, um a vuela can do such a thing?”

Viya said, “Loee! You are selected to be brought into vuel because of your background and Earth values. We do not need to teach you any of those things. We need to teach you what you do not know. Controlling the vuelo during amorig is essential to your success as a vuelessa.”

Viya had picked up a belt and handed it to me and said, “we cannot force you to accept this instruction. You must put the training belt on yourself and hold your wrists for me to secure you.”

This was strange. “What is this for?”

Viya laughed at me this time, “this is so you don’t reach up and grab the vuelo to hug him because he is making you feel so good!”

I hurried with the belt now.

Viya giggled, “I knew you would be anxious!”

She attached my bracelets to hooks on my belt. I would be unable to unbuckle myself.

I heard her say, “now I’m going to put this over your eyes so you will not become the amora of the vuelo that trains you!”

A thick sack was pulled over my head and tied under my nose. I whined, “Eeeeeh. He will be able to see me, won’t he?”

Viya teased, “you do want him to be able to penetrate you, now don’t you?”

I grunted my discomfort with this situation, “Uuuuuh.”

She said, “let me guide you over to this lounge. Here, just sit down. Now roll back onto the lounge. That’s good! When the vuelo begins penetration, because you are able to read my thought, I will tell you how much to tighten and how much to loosen. If I sense that you cannot concentrate on my thought, which may happen, I will push down on your shoulders like this. When I let up, you loosen. Do you understand?”

“Yes, maiden.” I was nervous.

I read her reply to my thought: Yes. You are doing the correct thing, Loee. I am here with you. You will do well at this and you will enjoy this.

Viya called, “lo vuelo!” The vuelo was apparently waiting behind a door for me to be prepared for this training. Viya’s thought came to me: Relax, you will like this, I promise.

Another thought came into my mind, it was the vuelo’s thoughts! He was aroused by me. He was anxious to amorig with me. He was looking right at the opening to my vagina. I quivered. He saw my nervous movement. He thought something to me: I am told that you already read thought. You are reading me now, aren’t you? Can you read that you have made me erect? Can you read that I am ready to penetrate you?

I breathed, “yes.” My back arched as my legs opened and lifted. I couldn’t believe I was doing this.

He thought: Not yet, my fawn. I felt his fingers stroke my labia. My wrists pulled at the belt. I wanted to embrace him.

I read from him: Ah, that has made you wet. Here you are, vuela, you can have it all. as I felt the length of his penis inside me.

Viya thought: Soft pressure, Loee.

I clenched slightly around his penis.

I read from the vuelo: That feels good. What can you do for me, vuela?.

Viya read that he was teasing me and asked him to amorig with me in the common manner, “lo vuelo, teaching movements, in your kindness.”

The vuelo began an even paced reciprocal movement.

Viya thought to me: More firm.

I tightened.

The vuelo thought: Oh, this vuela is good.

I held my pressure.

Viya’s thought came to me: That is good, Loee, you have him. You are controlling him now.

Momentarily, the vuelo thought: She is going to make me spurt if I don’t, no she is going to.

The vuelo was about to ejaculate and he didn’t want to for some reason. I wanted to make him let loose before he could pull out. I clenched tightly. I heard him groan. Was that him groaning or did I read that groan from his mind? He was trying to pull out, then pushed back in completely as I sensed his thrusts of ejaculation.

In a moment I heard his breathing. His thought came: You don’t need any more training, vuela.

He pulled out and patted the bottom of my thigh. I heard him walk away.

The vuelo left the room. Viya giggled. She put a cloth over my vagina. She said to me, “hold this.”

I asked her, “how did I do?”

She took the bag from my head. Her giggles continued. She whispered to me, “he left the room limp. He was correct, you need no more instruction pertaining to amorig.”

I sat up on the lounge and leaned over on one side and checked the cloth. It was full of the vuelo’s liquid. I breathed, “whoa.” I looked up at Viya.

Viya laughed, “I told you!” She handed me a loe stem to clean myself with.

Viya sent me back out to the pools to relax. She said that she and the instructor were going to discuss the results of my instruction to this point. She took some time explaining the use of Jae seed to me. This is used as a contraceptive. Viya also told me that vuelas brought from the far away lands do not begin the menstruation cycles for most of an annaro when we are brought into vuel. I had noticed this, of course. Viya gave no explanation for the suspension of menstruation, just that it happened and was known to occur.

I had perspired during the instruction and a swim in the pool felt good. I found some shade to lie in and relaxed on a lounger. I wondered when I would get a ves to wear. My stress about the training seemed to be gone. The air was dry and light here. I dozed off until I heard the call. Viya was asking me to come with her.

I sat up and looked around. She was not here. I looked back and forth. She is the type that would play a joke on you, so I looked around carefully.

She called me again, laughing, “I am over here, Loee. I sent thought to you because you were taking a nap. It is nicer to be awakened by thought.”

“You could tell that I was sleeping?”

Viya said, happily, “I only received random thoughts, so you were probably asleep. Come with me, the instructor wants to describe an opportunity.”

An opportunity. Interesting. I asked, trying to pry into what the opportunity might be, “you both think I am ready for such?”

Viya said, “the instructor and I are impressed with you, Loee.” Once again, she took me by my hand to lead me to the instructor.

“Viya, will I be getting a ves, soon?”

She scolded. “Loee! I have told you that you are so beautiful that you should never wear a ves!”

“Viya, you are only saying that to me to flatter me. You are at least as beautiful as I am.”

She stopped where we were and said to me, “yes, that is true, but you are from the far away lands and you will be a great vuelessa. Come! The instructor is excited to talk to you!”

Viya’s happiness was infectious. I was excited to talk to the instructor now, too.

Viya led me to the room at the top of the ramp where we had first met the instructor. I was realizing that my training was ending. Was this all there was to being a vuelessa? We passed through the living area of the large room and I was taken through a door that opened into a closet. It was filled with vesses. Viya’s thought came to my mind: I can tell you are excited.

She began pulling out vesses of all colors, “with your light hair, and skin tone, you should try a blue or purple blend.” The fabric was all the same kind of boo cloth that is woven with a stretchy fiber.

I held up one and then another, “these are the fine vesses that I have seen Aeia wearing. They all are the same style?”

Viya said, “they vary with cut and trim, but the basic style is consistent. A vuelessa should be easily recognized.”

I tried on one of the vesses and told her, “this fabric is dense. It feels luxurious.” I looked at myself in the mirror in the closet. I exclaimed, “it is also sheer!” The fabric hid little.

Viya laughed, “you are a vuelessa! You will present yourself by dropping this ves from yourself to show that you hide nothing!”

I had seen Aeia do this. I would be doing this now. My mind wandered to how I would be able to do this. Would I be able to pull my ves away to present myself to vuelen?

Viya read my thought and assured me with her thought: Yes. You will be able to do that! She turned to me with a dark green ves that had swirls of gold in the print. She held it up to me and thought: This is you.

I lifted off the ves I had on and took it from her. I thought: You think so? I held it to my body and looked in the mirror with it. I wasn’t sure, but I tried it on. I pulled it down and the shoulder was unhooked. I pulled it below my breasts.

Viya giggled and hooked it at my shoulder and pulled it up and smoothed it on me.

Now, it fit perfectly. It seemed to hold my breasts without looking tight. I asked, “How does it?”

Viya read the thought that accompanied my question. She sent me the thought: It is how the fabric is made.

I said nothing, but thought: This is the most beautiful ves I have ever seen.

Viya said, “many vuelas have tried it on, it was meant for your body, Loee. Come out, try a presentation with it!”

We left the closet and the instructor was entering the living area. Viya thought: Present yourself to the instructor!

I thought to her: Yes, maiden. I approached the instructor. The instructor’s attention focused on me. I read nothing from her at first. Then, clearly, her thought came to me: What is your purpose? I knelt and put my face to the floor. I slowly raised up, taking the shoulder catch in my right hand and releasing it. I pulled slightly as I lowered the catch in my hand to allow the ves to fall away fluidly. My hands went to my upper thighs and brushed up my waist as I planted my foot in front to stand up. I read thought from Viya that I was presenting beautifully. My hands lifted under my breasts and moved out to reveal my palms to the instructor as my eyes met hers. I said, “I will serve you.” I lowered my eyes again.

The instructor sent clear thought to me: You are a beautiful vuelessa. You may know my name, though you may never say it out loud. My name is Wazja.

I lifted my eyes to her. I mouthed her name while thinking it back to her.

She slowly closed and opened her eyes while thinking: Yes, Wazja.

I wore my vuelessa ves in Pleasance the next brightness. Viya and I were escorted about the resort by a guard. My bracelets had not been removed. A tether ran from my wrist bracelet to Viya. This was a security precaution. I was now valuable. I drew the attention of the vuelans in Pleasance.

We stopped at a cafe to eat desayun, the early brightness meal. The server addressed me as vuelessa. It was strange to hear the title and realize it was being used with me. The instructor discussed the new assignment the previous dim over the early dim comida and then discussed generalities of the position of vuelessa late into the dim.

A vuelo and his espa came up to the table. He said, “Vuelessa.”

I turned and lowered my head to them. I said, “I will serve you.” I looked at both of them.

They pushed their daughter forward between them. She was probably less than four annaros. The little vuela looked at me with wide eyes as if I were a queen. The father said to me, “our little vuela wants to be a vuelessa in a future brightness.”

I smiled, looked into the little vuela’s eyes and told her, “always respect and listen to your parents. They will teach you the most important lessons in vuel.”

The young vuela said, with amazement, “yes la vuelessa!”

Her mother said, “you are kind, vuelessa.”

Her father also said, “you are kind, vuelessa.”

He whispered to his daughter, “tell the beautiful vuelessa she is kind.”

The little vuela could barely say the words.

I smiled gratefully and took the little vuela’s hand and leaned down into her face, “you will be a beautiful vuelessa when you grow up!”

Her mother gave me a grateful expression and pulled her daughter away.

I thought to Viya: Does that happen often?

She said, “Not to me!” Then she thought: I have told you how beautiful you are.

We walked through the resort looking through the shops. Viya made sure we went into a certain jewelry shop. The jewelry there sparkled with crystals. There were chains that were made of crystal links. This seemed impossible but the jeweler said it was fairly common. One of these chains was of light green crystals and I noticed Viya looking at it closely. I thought to her: It matches your eyes!

She thought back to me: Yes, it does. I read that she wished she could buy it for herself.

She moved away from the display, but before she pulled me away with her, I picked the chain up and called to the jeweler to ask how much deen the chain would cost.

The jeweler called to me, “that one is fifty blue, vuelessa. From you, I will accept forty five blue.”

He offered me a discount and I read from him that the discount offered was a true reduction of the price. I said, “I will accept your kind offer, lo vuelo.”

Viya was surprised. She asked, “what, how do. Do you have deen of your own?”

I said, “lo Kregt gave me enough deen to return to Centium if I was not accepted. It was in the fold of my ves.” I told her as I pulled the crystals from the fold of my vuelessa ves. Her eyes were wide as I revealed two clear and two pink crystals. I gave the shop keeper one of the clears. He gave me Five pink and five blues in change. I handed him back the blues, saying, “your offer was too kind, lo vuelo.”

The jeweler was surprised that I would return the five blue discount. He said, “vuelessa, you will find great success in vuel and your generosity will be multiplied.”

I nodded to him, saying, “you are kind.” Then, I turned and knelt facing Viya. I lifted up the crystal chain to her. I said, “you have helped so many vuelas become vuelessas. In your kindness Viya, accept this from all of us.”

Viya’s eyes teared. Had no one ever done anything nice for her? She reached down and lifted me by my hands and embraced and bessed me. She quivered, unable to speak. Her bess remained on my lips for several moments.

When we parted, we both looked at the jeweler with some embarrassment for having bessed so passionately.

He smiled, telling us, “if I had known I would see such a display, I would have offered a deeper discount.”

Viya laughed and put her hands on her face, lifting my tethered wrist with hers to do so.

We continued to walk around the shops, closely followed by our guard. At the last shop on one of the lanes, a dirt road continued out to an area with tarps on poles. I asked, “what is that out there?”

Viya said, “that is the bazaar. They sell the same things that are sold here. Many vuelasels believe the merchandise there is more exotic or sold at a discount.”

I wondered, “is the merchandise the same?”

Viya laughed, “yes, almost exactly.”

I asked, “is it sold for less deen out there?”

Viya laughed and shook her head, “by Sola, no. It is only presented differently.”

I was in disbelief. I asked, “so it is only the vuelasel’s perception that is different?”

Viya said, “yes! The perception is the only difference! It is getting late in the brightness. We must return to the Domesticate, there is something we must take care of for you.”

The early dim comida was on the third level of the Domesticate. I had not realized that there was a third level. Vuelen lived on the third level. Viya and I met Wazja in the living area where we shared some vinho.

The instructor, Wazja, asked me, “now that you’ve been seen in Pleasance as a vuelessa. What did you think of how vuelans reacted to you?”

I had to say to her, “I wonder if they take me seriously.”

Wazja smiled, saying, “that is a good thing to be concerned with. Your constituents must know that you care about their interests. The assignment we are sending you to will require a great deal of this contemplation. There are multiple interests that are at odds. I will not try to describe the details. We are having comida with the vuelen this dim. Lo Pelad has more information and will give you some details.”

“I will listen carefully.”

Wazja said, “I wish to accent your kindness to Viya. The necklace is beautiful! Where is mine?”

I almost choked on my vinho when she said this. Before I spilled my chalice, she laughed.

Wazja put her hand on my shoulder to assure me of her jest and told me, “Viya is not the only trainer that has a sense of humor! By Sola, she deserves your kindness.”

I nodded deeply to acknowledge that she had played a wonderful joke on me.

The instructor continued, “I must ask, did you read kind thoughts from other vuelessas for her?”

When the instructor asked me this I realized that I had read such thoughts. I said, “I read something, but I did not recognize what I was receiving until now, instructor. Yes, that is what I read.!”

She said, “excellent. You must realize that our vuelas send thought of our kindness many times each brightness. That is what empowers Viya and I and the other trainers to give our best to new vuelessa trainees.”

Viya spoke up, “they have read my joy this brightness. They have all sent thoughts of joy to me and asked me to forward those thoughts to you.”

I began to read thoughts from three, then another, then two more. This continued until I had read thoughts of joy from twenty five or thirty vuelessas. I concentrated, and read that Aeia was one who sent a wish of joy. Ua’s name came to mind, along with a vuelessa named Eycia. Those were the only names I could discern.

The instructor sent me her thought: Reading forwarded thought is an advanced skill. We are grateful for your reading ability. She took a sip of her vinho and looked out the window into the sky. Sola was turning the early dim clouds pink and gray. Behind the clouds the planet moon, Govul, gave it’s lavender and purple backdrop to a large part of the sky.

The three of us sipped our vinho and looked at the sky. I read that Viya and Wazja treasured moments like these that allowed them to reflect on the occurrences of the brightness. I read from them that they were glad to have read the thoughts from the vuelessas this brightness. This was a fabulously beautiful view. Pleasance is a beautiful place to live in. The resort stretched out in front of us. The bazaar was beyond the curve of the terrain. I wondered if lo Kregt has ever come here. He is wealthy enough to come here, I am certain. I looked beyond the resort at Govul again. There was something that made me connect lo Kregt and Govul. It didn’t make sense. I dismissed the thought.

The instructor said, “shall we join the vuelen? I’m reading that they are drinking vinho also.”

Viya drank the last of her vinho and put her chalice down. I finished my vinho and put my chalice with hers. I was about to ask if I could take the chalices somewhere when I received the thought: A vuela will pick up the chalices for us.

I looked at Viya and Wazja. Did they know I would ask that? Their thought returned to me: Yes, we did, vuelas from the faraway lands always ask to pick up chalices. They smiled.

The ramp to the third level was a continuation of the ramp that went to the second level. I did not notice this when I was brought to the second level before. Viya took me by my hand and led me into the vuelen’s rooms.

Lo Pelad, who I had met on my arrival, and two other vuelen were there. I did not recognize one, but the other was the jeweler from the shop Viya and I had visited this brightness. They all said Ah when I was brought into their living area. The vuelen’s living area had large comfortable looking chairs instead of the large and medium sized couches that were in vuela’s living area. The vuelen’s living area had more space outside. A large deck area reached out from the building. I had perceived that the vuela’s living area simply had a roof overhang when, instead, the overhang was the floor of the vuelen’s deck.

I knelt and put my head to the floor. Thinking that this was appropriate. Instantly, I had the vuelen’s attention. I read that they would appreciate my presentation. I unhooked my ves and placed my foot in front of me as the ves fell to the floor. My hands stroked my skin as I rose up. I looked up at the vuelen as I turned my palms to face them. They appreciated my fully exposed beauty. I read that they each assessed me carefully. When I read that their assessment was near completion, I said, “I will serve you.”

I instantly read from the vuelo I did not recognize that he would like another opportunity to have me serve him! I lowered my head slightly, closed my eyes and as I opened them again I read that he was the vuelo that had trained me. I met his eyes and mouthed, you are kind.

Wajza announced to the vuelen, “this is our newest vuelessa, Loee. Vuelen, you will have no secrets from Loee as she is already able to read effectively.” Wazja paused and looked at the vuelo that I had communicated with, and simply added, “lo Chak?”

Chak acknowledged her advice with his nod.

Viya introduced me to lo Daneg, the jeweler that we had met in his shop. Lo Daneg said to me, “I have something for you, vuelessa, if you will come over here.”

I read that I was to leave my ves off and followed him to a stool that was like a stationary bicycle with a small seat and a handle bar in front.

Lo Daneg motioned that I sit on the device. I did so, reading that they expected me to understand how to do this because I was from the faraway lands. It occurred to me that I had seen no bicycles on Vul.

Lo Daneg opened a box and lifted a necklace of clear and amber crystals. The necklace was beautiful. I looked at lo Daneg, who had turned to show the necklace to Wazja. He asked her, “Do you approve, instructor?”

Wazja was surprised. She exclaimed, “I have never seen such stunning crystals used before in a vuelessa necklace, lo Daneg.”

Daneg replied, “I witnessed a generosity of spirit in this vuelessa that I have not previously been aware of.” He motioned to me! Was this necklace to be put on me? I looked to Wazja and then to Viya and lo Daneg.

Wazja sent thought to me: You are unaware that you did anything extraordinary, aren’t you?

I thought to Wazja: All I did was something kind for a kind vuela. Viya genuinely wants to help vuelas like me. She deserved something pretty. I noticed Viya’s eyes swelling up again. I made a funny face to Viya that caused her to giggle, instead.

Daneg said to me, “hold your body still, vuelessa.” He put the necklace over my head. I felt small sensations then along the necklace as he applied the adhesive to my skin where the necklace lay against it. He told me, “this is sticky, so do not touch it for as much of a period as you can, do you understand?”

I said, “yes, lo Daneg.”

Daneg assured me, “the necklace will become part of your skin in a few brightnesses. This fluid will make it permanent in only a period.”

I held still and spoke softly, “you are kind. You are all kind.”

Lo Daneg fanned at the fluid he had applied for a moment and said, “that will hold it in place. Try to move minimally for the next period.

Pelad picked my ves up from the floor and draped it over the arm of one of the chairs. He told me, “your instructors have great confidence in your abilities. I am beginning to agree with them.” He offered me his arm and said, “come with me and we will have comida.”

“You are kind, lo Pelad.” Reading his thought told me I was young enough to be his daughter.

The table was filled with meats and vegetables. The vegetables were both cooked and raw. Lo Pelad seated me between himself and lo Chak. I was at the table between these vuelen naked, trying to be still to allow my necklace adhesive to bond to my skin.

Vul was so different. I would have dim comida while naked at the table. My status among these vuelans was clear. I was a trained, highly regarded, animal. Yet, I was thrilled to have achieved this much in vuel.

Pelad and Wazja discussed some things that sounded technical while Chak asked me how long I have been on Vul. I told him that I had probably been here two rotations or more, though I wasn’t sure because I lost track of the brightnesses I spent on the farm.

Chak told me in a kind voice, “those adventures are not ideal, but in your case the experiences have given you background information that we would have difficulty teaching.”

“Lo Chak, I am sure of that. Can you or lo Pelad give me any details of the situation I am going into?” I asked as a spoon of vegetables and a piece of meat was put on my plate by a serving vuela. I looked at my plate full of food and paused to quickly offer kindness to God for my meal. I instantly read that lo Pelad as well as Wazja and Viya had paused with me. I quickly asked in thought. Is this a problem?

Wazja and Viya smiled at each other, “you were thanking the creator God for your food?” They asked.

Everyone at the table looked at me. I said, as a matter of fact, “I believe in a creator God.”

Pelad answered for the table, “we all do, to some extent.” He nodded to Chak, “for instance, I do more than your friend, Chak, does.”

Chak said, “I believe in a creator God. I simply give more credit to the red gods.”

I read from Wazja and Viya that this was a common discussion and my opinion would be considered valid by both sides. I offered, “I will agree more with lo Pelad, although I am sure that the red gods are vital.”

Chak said to me, “you will be an excellent vuelessa, la Loee.”

I was startled to hear Chak refer to me with la in front of my name. I nodded to him, “you are kind to say so, lo Chak.”

Pelad leaned close and spoke softly, “be careful of his charms, my fawn.”

I laughed, and it made me laugh at my situation. I was naked between two vuelen at the table!

Chak said, “I assure you that la Loee needs no advice in that sort of self protection.”

Now the entire table laughed at Chak’s self deprecating humor.

I turned to Chak and lowered my head to him. “Again, I beg your kindness, lo Chak.”

He said, “stop asking my kindness!” He looked at the ceiling and laughed at my joke.

I was glad that the conversation at the table then turned from me to other matters. I had much to learn and would learn nothing by saying anything. The meats tasted like beef and another meat was probably pork. There was a fish on the large meat tray that I tried with a powder that is shaken onto the fish. The powder was a salty spice that gave the fish a tasty flavor. I took some of the letugas. This was a vegetable that I had been lashed for not being able to process correctly when I was on the farm. It tasted a little sweet, I wondered if a sugar had been added in it’s preparation. I now understood why it was coveted in the farm diet. The vinho served at the table was refreshingly deep red and sparkling. Sparkling vinho is so common on Earth and yet not so on Vul, as I had experienced so far.

The conversation turned to vuelessas and stories that had been told recently. There were successes and difficulties. Then several vuelessas names were mentioned that were not in the places that they had been assigned. I didn’t recognize any of these names, until the name ‘Ua’ was brought up. I looked at Chak, who seemed to be a contact for information here in Pleasance.

Chak turned to me. “Ua was close to Aeia. Has Aeia said anything about the vuelessa Ua to you?”

I was amazed that I knew some information that might be helpful. I said, “on the brightness that I left Aeia’s hacienda, lo Kregt was on his way to find Ua. Aeia had been contacted by a vuelasel in Centium who told her that Ua must have been abducted in Refurio. Lo Kregt is from the Cadizan plains and is familiar with Refurio.”

Wazja and Viya listened closely to this information. The two of them looked at each other for a moment. They had read my memory of this matter. Wazja thought to me: Aeia withheld information on this matter from you, and everyone else, that probably has to do with her friend, lo Kregt.

Wazja addressed the vuelen, “we must become acquainted with lo Kregt of the Cadiz.”

The conversations continued about diverse subjects, including some of the interesting vuelas that had trained here in Pleasance. There were stories of vuelessas that apparently were assigned to families for the purpose of bearing children. I did not know this was one of the purposes of a vuelessa. During this discussion, Viya read my distress about this revelation and thought to me: Do no be concerned, Loee, only specific vuelessas are trained to serve in such a manner.

I quickly returned the thought to her: You are kind, maiden.

Viya added the thought: My mother was one such vuelessa.

The conversation continued on to the current mystery of who had arranged to divert the vuelas from the faraway lands from arriving at Pleasance. These were issues I was unfamiliar with. I listened carefully so that I might use any information I heard in the future. In the discussion, the name Lukatsic came up. My ears perked up like a dog that had heard his name.

I sent thought to Viya: Does this involve the place I am being assigned to?

Viya thought back to me: Listen closely.

Lo Pelad and Wazja were discussing an area that sounded as if many vuelessas had been sent to the area over the rotations. There were several villages in the region. Trade agreements were not kept. Crime was rampant in the area.

I could no longer listen without asking, “Is the group of villages your are discussing the Lukatsic villages, where I am being sent?”

Pelad smiled at me and said, “you are being sent to join others that are working to achieve the same goals. They are already in the villages controlling the crime and working on trade and cooperation between the villages. These agents are improving vuel in the Lukatsic villages as we speak.”

“You are kind, lo Pelad. That gives me confidence.” At the same time I also read from Wazja that there was more to that description. She sent me the thoughts: The villages in the Lukatsic region are historically dysfunctional. It is believed that some group must be working against our efforts to bring them into harmony. This is why you will be valuable there.

Pelad suggested that we move our conversation to the deck so the serving vuelas could clear the table. I sent thought to Wazja while we were moving to the deck: I have little experience or background. How could I possibly be valuable to such a venture?

Wajza laughed in her thoughts. I read her laughter and returned my sense of distress. She paused and thought slowly and clearly to me: Your value is that you will be perceived as beautiful and ignorant . They will have no idea that you can read them as effectively as you are able.

The vuelen’s deck gave an infinite view of the stars beyond Govul. The glow of Govul was a darker lavender this dim due to the positioning of Vul and Sola. I was absolutely enchanted by the expanse of the view. I stared to infinity, wondering if they were overestimating my value. Perhaps I was more than a trained animal. They seemed to think so.

It was cool on the deck this dim. I asked, “lo Daneg, will it be alright to put on my ves again?”

Lo Daneg said, “yes, it has been long enough.” He looked at Pelad and Chak, adding, “if you must!”

Chak was already standing and motioned to me that he would bring the ves to me. I followed him into the living area. I wanted to tell him he was kind to have helped with my training. He picked up the ves and turned to see me near him. I lowered my head to him, this seemed appropriate. I told him, “lo Chak, you have shown kindness to assist in my training. I wanted to say this to you personally.”

He smiled with surprise and handed me my ves. I took the ves and stepped forward again, leaned toward him and bessed him. He accepted my bess for his kindness. I smiled at him and whispered, “when I am amoriged, I want to be bessed.”

His smile broadened as he said, “I will be glad to do that for you.” I read that he wanted that bess, soon.

I stepped into my ves and turned my shoulder to him with my ves catch in my hand. “Your kindness again, lo vuelo?”

Chak took the catch in his hands while looking into my eyes. “I will always be glad to help you put your ves, back on, vuelessa.”

He addressed me as vuelessa. I nodded, and replied, “I will gladly accept that help, any time you wish.”

The catch on my ves did not get hooked. He put me over his shoulder. I gasped at what I had created in him.

Viya sent a clear thought to me as I was carried away: Loee, you are a fully capable vuelessa.

Renzt .2

Era’s experience

This story is told by Renzt.

I asked the slavuela, “who told you to say that word to me?” I may have sounded annoyed. The word yahoo was the password used by the lost and runaway group of humans that found each other along the bank of the Yuko river. We survived with each other by scrounging supplies and foraging for food. To protect our location we used a password that was understood in all earth languages. The word was yahoo.

She went to her knees and put her head to my feet. Her voice begged, “kindness, lo Vuelo!”

Her back arched as if she were bracing for the lash. What had she been through? The slavuelas with her had gone to their knees, also. I motioned to Gidat to see if he understood what had happened. He shrugged. He was as clueless as I was.

I said, softly this time, “all of you, look up at me.” The three of them lifted their faces to me. I told them, “it is alright. Come with me. You need to wash yourselves and you look hungry. We are going to a House.” I turned and took a few steps. The thought occurred to me that the vuelas want something to wear. I stopped and turned to face the slavuela again.

She cringed, but did not go to the ground. She whined, “kindness lo vuelo.”

I paused for a moment. I asked, “what is your name?”

She lowered her eyes and said, “Era, if lo vuelo approves.”

I wondered: What had she been through? I said, “Era is a beautiful name. Understand that you are no longer a slavuela. You are the vuelessa that you are supposed to be.” The vuela’s personality and body language transformed in moments. She became more beautiful, under that layer of dirt.

The vuelessa Era knelt again. Gidat and I watched closely. She planted her foot in front of herself. Her hands stroked her thighs, her waist and stopped under her breasts, then she spread her arms as her palms faced forward. Her face lifted to mine. I was mesmerized. Gidat murmured something.

She announced, “I am the vuelessa Era. I will serve you, lo Renzt.” She looked down at herself. I had told her that she and her two vuelas needed to wash themselves. She added, uncomfortably, “I will serve you after I have washed myself, lo vuelo.”

“You are kind, vuelessa.” I motioned to the other two and asked, “what are their names?”

She indicated the vuela on the right, “this is Auvee.” She pointed to the vuela on the left and said, This is Ooya.” Then Era spit into her hand and rubbed at Ooya’s shoulder. Ooya was apparently also a vuelessa, under the layer of dirt.

I was at a loss for words. I pointed to Auvee. I was sure I didn’t need to speak the question. Era nodded no, so I did not ask another question about her.

The washing rooms at the Prairie House offered warm water and I paid fee for the vuelas to use them without limit. The vuelas were filthy and I would get the full worth of my deen, not only for the warm water but for the use of the smoothing stones and oils the house provided.

I asked the Prairie House to send three string vesses to my room for the vuelas. The string ves is the common ves worn in the countryside and smaller villages. This ves is one color, a dark yellow and has strings at three places that allow the vuela to tailor the ves on her body. I was sure that the vuelessa Era had sent that idea about the vesses into my head somehow. Houses usually have a bracelet spreading device on hand. This device is a large pliers that spreads bracelets to remove them. The bracelets that I wore when I first came to Vul were this same type. Two of my group companions, Ted and Fafoalo had devised our own pliers to remove our bracelets. I remembered our pliers was primitive and worked only because Ted possessed immense strength.

I changed our accommodations with the Prairie House from a room that two vuelos would use to one that a family would use. This type of room had bedding for several vuelans and a large sand area. Gidat and I sat at the table in our second level room and poured ourselves cups of vinho while waiting for the vuelas to be brought up to us. All the rooms in these houses were on the second or third level. There are no stairways on Vul. The upper floors of a building are accessed by ramps. I have been told that there are buildings on Vul that are four and five levels. The windows in the rooms are barred by thick boo stalk bars that cross to form squares about the size of one hand. This is enough space to allow you to reach out and grasp the shutters to close the window during the dim.

Gidat stared out of the window at the early dim glow. This had been a long brightness for us. I studied the weapon that Pagalund provided for me. Gidat finally asked, “do you know Era from somewhere?”

I took another sip of vinho and said, “No.” I thought another moment, shook my head and said, “No, I’ve never seen her before, ever.” I thought a moment more and laughed, “unless she looks completely different under all that dirt. No, I’m aware that vuelessas can communicate with each other from great distances, but that doesn’t explain how she knew my name and how Aeia knew she was meeting me.”

Gidat was curious about something else. He asked, “what was that word she said to you?”

I wasn’t sure how to answer this for Gidat. I said, “that is a word in the lengua from the faraway lands. It is pronounced the same way in any village.”

He nodded, then he laughed, “they may not look different, but they will have to smell better.”

There was a knock at the door. We both grabbed our weapons. I went to the door and Gidat took a position on the other side of the room. I called, “yes?”

A serving vuela said, through the door, “lo Rentz, your vuelas.”

I checked to see Gidat standing ready and opened the door. She was almost completely different. Standing aside, I said, “come in.”

Era still had the leash on Auvee and Ooya. Ooya’s crystal necklace sparkled around her shoulders and above her breasts. Ooya’s breasts, now clean, were captivating. She was as beautiful as Era.

Era took my attention. I thought: Did she ask me something? Her eyes were in mine again and I could hear her question. I wondered: How does she do that? I answered, “yes. We have vesses for you.”

The serving vuela said to me, “there will be no charge for the washing of the vuelessas, lo Renzt. We will credit you.”

I was surprised to be told this. I said, “you are kind, la vuela.” I handed her six blue, the equivalent of the payment I had made to the house for the washings.

The serving vuela accepted the crystals, saying, “you are most kind, lo vuelo.”

The vesses were draped over a chair at the table. Era, Ooya and Auvee stood by the chair, not reaching for the vesses. The three vuelas were desperate to put on the garments. I motioned to them, and said, “go ahead, put them on.” Ooya and Auvee took the vesses and began to put them over their heads.

Era, though, took her ves in her hands and came to me. She lowered her head, saying, “you are kind, lo vuelo.” She leaned toward me and bessed me on my cheek. She stepped to Gidat and bessed him, too. She said to him, “you are also kind, lo vuelo.” Quietly, plaintively, she continued, “Oova and I will serve you as you have never been served before. Be kind to leave Auvee alone.”

I nodded. Gidat nodded to her also. I said to her, “we will take you to the dining room, you appear as if you need something to eat, but first, you must have some vinho with us. It will calm your nerves.”

Era had a strange expression on her face. I smiled and helped her pull the string ves over her head and told her, “some vinho will calm our nerves, also.”

When her face reappeared, she was already more calm. She held the catch in one hand and paused. She seemed unfamiliar with how this shoulder catch worked. I moved to take hold of the catch for her and without hesitation, she gave the ves straps to me. She looked down as I hooked the ves. I thought, She may be a vuelessa, but she has been a slavuela. There is a dark place in her mind and she remains in that darkness. I wanted to tell her that I did not want her to serve me from that dark place. She was going to have to bring herself out from that place.

Era lifted her eyes to mine. Her expression showed profound gratitude. I wondered: Did she know what I was thinking? Was she beginning to release herself from the horror? What has she been through?

I poured some vinho for everyone and we sat down. Gidat waited for me to say something. I stared out the window at the dimming of Sola. I was sure one of the vuelas would say something soon. I could see that Era and Ooya were vuelessas. I wondered what the story was with Auvee. She was younger, much younger. How did she get here? I looked at Era and Ooya. They were relaxing a little.

I took a sip and asked them, “how long has it been since you’ve had some vinho?” It was an innocuous question that I thought would be safe to ask.

Ooya melted over her cup. She had not swallowed yet. She was holding the vinho in her mouth. She swallowed and tilted her head back. She turned slightly toward me, and said, “I was not sure I would ever taste it again.” She put her face back in her cup to breathe the aroma.

That was informative. The vuelas were damaged alright. Gidat wondered what we should say. I shrugged and looked out the window again.

In part of a period Auvee lifted her head and asked me, “what are you going to do with us?”

I checked with Era. She was not giving me any signal to say something or not. I said, “Auvee, we are not going to do anything with you. You are free. You can go and do what you want.”

She had a pained expression on her face. She whispered, “I have no village to go back to.”

Era spoke to Auvee, “we will find a new village. You are strong. You are a survivor.”

Auvee had been told this before. She sipped at her vinho.

I announced, “the food is good here.” The vuelas all looked at me. They were hungry. That was a good sign.

The Prairie House serves food in large bowls that is dished out to each vuelan’s leaf. After kneeling by the table, the vuelas sat with Gidat and I and we ate and drank until they could eat no more. The conversation had not become specific about anything that had gone on with the vuelas. I assured them that we do not deal in slavuelas. We were only transporting some. Era asked how I knew Aeia. I described being at the hacienda and being taken in by Aeia’s friend, Kregt.

Era asked about Kregt. Gidat told her about Kregt being a Cadizan. I wasn’t sure all that he told her was true. There was a legend developing around Kregt of the Cadiz that he did not initiate and did not control. Era asked me about Ua. Once again I wondered how she knew that I knew Ua. I knew that vuelessas can read minds but I did not know they could go back in a memory. Maybe she was reading this from Aeia? I didn’t want to seem suspicious. I told her about Ua and her espo, Exthius, and how I knew Exthius and that I knew him as Fafoalo because he said he was from a land called Fafoaloa. I did not go into the horrid tale of being attacked and my friend Ted getting killed. I was trying to keep the conversation on positive topics.

We went back to the room and I poured more vinho for the vuelas as well as myself and Gidat. We continued the conversation and the vinho helped Auvee fall into a deep sleep. Era and Ooya carried her to a mat by the wall and covered her. They then returned to the table.

Era’s eyes closed and opened slowly. She took Ooya’s cup and held it forth to me with hers. She said, “fill our cups. This is going to be difficult.”

I could tell that she and Ooya needed to tell us something,

She began the story, “it is said that there are no armies on Vul and that is true, but there are things that are worse than wars. There are beasts that gang up and prey on vuelans. Beasts that kill for sport.”

Era’s visage became dark. Her introduction was hellish. She said, “I was sent to a village beyond the Akavan. This is an area that is untamed. There is farming and ranching. The villages are scattered and usually two horizons away from each other.”

The Akavan is a mining region where the light crystals are taken out of the cliffs. I had only been on Vul for a few of rotations and I knew nothing of anything beyond the Akavan.

Era continued, “Mohob village is the largest village in the region and it is small. I arrived there and went on to Pital village, which is not a village. It is five houses that can be seen from each other across the prairie. There were probably thirty vuelans that lived there. Most of them were killed and were left to rot. The gang that overwhelmed the vuelen, house by house, killed the vuelen and any vuela that resisted. Most of us had no way to resist. Some ran. Maybe one or two older kids, vuelitos, escaped the carnage. Probably not.”

Era paused and looked at Ooya for confirmation.

Ooya’s face had no expression. She told Era, “tell him what you did.”

Era took a long, slow sip of the vinho. She stared at the cup. Slowly, she continued, “I read the danger.” She glanced at Ooya, “we both did. We were in the commons with the vuelitos and vuelitas. The Vuelas were processing the harvests and we were instructing the kids of the village in the lengua and numerals. I alerted the vuelas. Some of them ran toward their homes. Others stayed with the kids. When they asked me how many wildwolves there were, and I told them the attackers were not wildwolves, but vuelen. At first, they did not believe me.”

Ooya said, “I read the danger also. I tried to confirm for the vuelas that Era was accurate. I read that there were many vuelen in the attack.” She paused and looked at Era.

Era said, “we began to hear shouting. The kids saw the fear on the vuelas faces and began to cry. We huddled them together. The village was being over run. The marauders came from all directions. Most gathered to the late Sola. One of the vuelen that had fought them was dragged up in front of the marauders.

The leader of the marauders lifted the bloody and mud caked vuelan’s head up and yelled at us, “who is this vuelo’s family!”

Some of the kids screamed and ran from the huddle. I read the intention of the beast and ran in front of the kids. I yelled, “stop!” This slowed them enough to allow a couple of the vuelas to grab them and hold them back. I stepped toward the beast, pulled my ves off and went to my knees. Ooya read the thoughts that I had and joined me. We spread our knees and presented ourselves to the beasts and implored, “we will serve you. Spare the kids!”

The leader of the marauders hesitated. He directed two of his vuelen to proceed. The vuelen came to us. I stood and threw myself at them. They simply slapped me away and grabbed up the two vuelitas and the younger vuelito that had run toward their father and hauled them up to the bloody body.

I ran up to them, yelling, “NO! NO!” I was again slapped away. I read the intention well. The father’s face was lifted. He was still alive. The beasts chopped his kids into pieces for him to see.

The leader then yelled, “you killed two of my vuelen and my hermano. Before I kill you, you saw your family die!”

The father’s head was hacked mostly away. The leader’s blood lust was strong and I had interfered. Now I was sure he was going to kill me. Having nothing to lose, I threw myself to the ground in front of him and begged his use, holding my leg up and out, spreading myself so that he had to see my open vagina . He held his cleaver ready. His hesitation gave me a chance. I inhaled to lift my breasts to him. The cleaver dropped as he grabbed me, threw me on top of the bloody corpse and brutally plunged into me.”

Gidat and I sat there, listening in disbelief.

Era continued, “I let him believe he was a savage brute for a moment and then in a deep thrust, took hold of his penis. I hated this vuelo. I wanted to sever his penis if I could. He lifted and looked in my eyes with a mixture of fear and hate. Fear he had not experienced for a long time. Hate that assured me of my death. Then, he paused his hate and I released my grasp. The barbarous savage agreed with his eyes not to kill me and I agreed not to maim him. We agreed not to harm each other, not this brightness. He withdrew from me and cursed. I do not know the words he used, but the meaning was clear.”

He called to all his vuelen, “you will serve us all!” I also heard him call, “the other vuela too!” I was grabbed up by the group of marauders who began to use me one after the other. If Ooya had not taken on many of them they would probably have ripped me open.”

Era lifted her gaze to her companion vuelessa, “I owe you my life.”

Ooya whispered, “what Era did surely saved many lives.”

I sat there, waiting for those descriptions to fade, like smoke diffusing in a room. I poured some vinho for the vuelas. I didn’t know whether to ask or not. Nothing could be as bad as that, but I had to ask, “what happened then?”

Era said as she nodded, “I will tell you. It will help if we tell you.” She took another long sip and said, “heavy cords were put on our necks to leash us. Our hands were tied to the leash behind our backs. The leashes were then tied one to the other until all the captive loot, vuelas and kids, was lined up. They came down the line to each of us and we were lashed to unconsciousness. I awoke to the kids crying from the beatings they received. They were lashed along with Ooya and I and the vuelas. I remember thanking Sola that they did not kill the kids. At the end of the brightness a slaver came. This had to have been arranged. The slaver knew where and when to come to receive the captive loot. The kids, there were more than twenty left, were pushed into the wagon the slaver brought. The seven other leashed vuelas were tied behind Ooya and me and I was tied to the back of the wagon. We left in the early dim.”

Era paused and Ooya said, “at mid brightness there had been a village. By early dim there was only a plundered waste strewn with dead bodies.”

Era sipped the vinho as if it were medication required to allow her to further describe what happened. She said, “we moved in the dim. It was more than two horizons. We should have come to a village but there was no village on this road. When brightness came we realized there was no road. We had been walking through clearings and fields to avoid any village. This must have been a route known to outlaws. We walked with the early brightness on our left. Mid brightness came and went and the kids began to cry for food. We begged the slaver to let us forage for berries and roots. We were lashed for asking.”

Era said to Ooya with determination, “I will not forget that vuelo’s face.” Ooya nodded.

Era continued, “we did not move far during the brightness. In the dim we were driven another two or three horizons. Our mouths were dry except for the sweat that we could lick from our bodies. Then there was little sweat left to lick. The kids had stopped crying. They stank from soiling the wagon. I am not going to describe.”

“Do not, in your kindness.”

She sipped some more and went on, “we smelled the mar. The salt smell of the mar was in the air. A rain shower came and went. The brightness came and there was a village ahead. We begged to Sola that we would be taken into this village.” She sneered at me as she said, “we thought we would be able to get help from the vuelans there. Such was not the case. We were no longer vuelans. We had become animals. Also, the village port was called Puerto Lavaka. Puerto Lavaka exists to serve buccaneers and raiders. We were processed into a slavuela distributor of some sort. This began with submerging us into a tank full of salty water. It was so salty that it stung our eyes. Any cuts or scrapes, like those on our backsides from the lashings we had received stung also. The kids and some of the vuelas screamed and cried. I wanted to scream, but held my composure. I thought I would be recognized as a vuelessa and be released.”

Ooya spoke up, “we both did. Due to the stress and pain, I realized that I was reading Era clearly. I sent her thoughts and she would answer me.”

There was the shortest pause. I sensed that there was a conversation in thought between Era and Ooya. They may have said many things to each other during that quick moment. I waited.

Era began again, “our hands were released and we were given brushes and stones and told to scrub each other. They assured us that anyone that was not well scrubbed would not be fed. That was all we needed to hear. We scrubbed each other until we almost removed the top layer of skin. We were starved. They moved us into a pen with a trough where they poured food pellets. The kids ate their fill while the vuelas anxiously waited. Then the vuelas put their faces into the troughs. All but one of the vuelas. Auvee waited with us. I motioned to her to feed. She had no expression. She was obviously in shock. That is when I read that it was her family that had been hacked to pieces in front of us in the village.”

Ooya said, “we had not associated Auvee with that family. They had a history of which we were unaware.”

Era said, “Ooya and I began sending her calming thoughts. In a few moments, she fell to her knees and began to cry. We crunched down some pellets and were able to feed her some. The pens we were kept in were clean. There was ample grasses to put on the dirt. We were supposed to keep ourselves clean. Late in the brightness we were all herded out of the pen and one by one, cords were attached to our neck cords. We were led onto a platform to be sold. We were lined up along the front of the platform while a crowd gathered. It surprised me that the vuelitos went first. I tried to read the motivation of the buyers and understood that young vuelos were valuable workers. Next, the vuelitas were snapped up. Again, the motivation I read was the value of the tasks they could perform. I tried to notice if siblings were identified and kept together. Some were, some were not. The vuelas were bid upon. The vuelo conducting the sale told the vuelas to hold their arms out or up and spread their legs and squat and pull their shoulder blades together to display their breasts in the most favorable way. Their mouths were held open and their foot soles were closely inspected. Auvee was one of the prettiest of the vuelas. I thought she would sell quickly, but she did not. I read the thoughts that she was too old to be considered a kid and too young to have the work experience of the mature vuela.”

I was entranced with Era’s descriptions. I had no idea.

Era continued, “the presenting vuelo decided that Auvee was not going to sell easily. He moved to us.”

She exchanged a strange glance with Ooya. She paused and sipped her vinho.

She said, “we were posed. We stretched. Our mouths were opened and we were described. This was when things went wrong. Fillings in out teeth were seen and now we were positively identified as vuelas from the faraway lands. Strangely, the crystals of our necklaces were thought to be fake until our mouths were inspected. When it was realized that we were real vuelessas no one bid on us. No one!”

Ooya added, “we became concerned at this point.”

Era nodded her agreement and said, “our concern was warranted. The vuelo that was presenting us had apparently thought we were fakes, also. He took out his lash and struck us both across our upper hips. He was skillful with the lash. His lash caught us exactly where it stung the most. He yelled at us, “present yourselves!”

We both went to the floor of the platform and began to lift up to the vuelo. He screams and snaps the lash at us again, “not to me! To them!”

We scrambled to face the buyers and present as beautifully as we were able. I tried to read the opinion of the vuelen as I presented. They were impressed. They were highly impressed. We were assessed carefully. I felt their assessment on every part of my body.”

Ooya nodded her agreement at the recollection.

Era said, “most were seeing a vuelessa for the first time. Some remained skeptical that I, we, were vuelessas at all.” Era turned to Ooya to say, “we each picked one out and said to them, I will serve you. Then they all believed. They all believed absolutely, that we were vuelessas. They all believed at the same time that we were forbandet. Some of them even said it out loud. I did not know what that word meant.” She and Ooya nodded to each other. Era described the word. “The word forbandet means cursed by the gods.”

Gidat repeated the word, “forbandet?”

Both vuelas nodded.

Gidat’s eyes were wide. He knew the meaning of the word.

Era explained for us, “It is believed that the only way for a vuelessa to become a slavuela, is that she must be forbandet.”

I wondered. “what about Auvee? She wasn’t forbandet, was she?”

Era continued the story. “the presenter vuelo, Nalkatat, tried to tell the buyers that we were not forbandet. He had us turn and pose and speak. The vuelen were invited to touch us. They were told that we desired them and were probably already moist for their touch.”

Some of the vuelen called back to him, “and we will be forbandet for using them!”

Era described the presenter vuelo, “Nalkatat was a skillful seller. He knew when a sale was turning against him and was not going to be profitable. He told them, you are all irrational fools! Will you all walk away from these desirous visions?”

Era said. “I became worried at this point. I wondered what would happen if no one bought us? Nalkatat abruptly ended the sale. He called out that we were too fine to be offered to such vuelen. He told them that higher and richer vuelen would appreciate a vuelessa. Then he thanked them, saying that he had almost allowed our sale for a price far below what we should bring!”

I asked, “were you afraid at that point?”

Era looked at Ooya, who nodded that she was. She said, “Nalkatat said something to himself and cabled the three of us to a post on the platform. He took out his lash and we cowered as he sliced at us, hitting us at least a couple of times each. He leaned down and said in a growl that we had better beg a good price before the dim or we would feel the lash tear through our skins! We believed him and tried to attract a buyer from the vuelen that passed by on the lane. That was not only futile, but punishing for us. We were cursed and spat at. Some vuelitos threw pebbles at us. After more than a period of such there was some loud taunting at us. Nalkatat came out to see what the situation was. We were sure we were in for a lashing. We begged to be taken from the platform. I begged Nalkatat to lash me the worst.”

Ooya said, “I begged him too!”

Era agreed, saying, “yes we both did! We were begging to be lashed rather than be pelted with rocks, which we were sure was going to happen soon. Nalkatat dispelled the vuelitos and took us from the platform. We were sure he was going to lash us severely. He didn’t, though. He locked us in a room. It was for one or two slavuelas so three of us could not sit down without sitting on each other. We read that there was danger but we did not know what might happen. We were kept there throughout the dim, then, before the next brightness the door opened and we were taken from the room, put in a wagon and covered. We were unloaded after a short wagon ride in the port area. The smell of the mar was strong. I thought we were being put on a boat but the structure was not a boat. It was something that had been a boat, but was now something else. We walked up a ramp from the pier to go into the building. Whatever the building or vessel was, it was not legally in Puerto Lavaka. It was considered offshore and not subject to the few laws that Puerta Lavaka enforced. We were led on board and given to the maiden of the vessel. In the glow before the brightness there was no other activity. A note was tied to my neck cord for her to read.”

Era shook her head as she described this, “the maiden laughed at the note. She said, not really to us, this is the Frigate Forbandet. Every vuelan here is cursed. I wondered if we had been sold. I asked her, do we belong to you, to the Frigate Forbandet? The maiden cursed at me. Own you? NO! Not even the Frigate Forbandet would call the wrath of the gods by owning you! Nalkatat has put you here to earn his profit from the three of you. I asked the maiden, what happens when he gets his profit? She laughed and cursed at me again. She told me, that will never happen.”

Gidat and I were listening to every word.

Era said, “rings were put on our wrists and ankles again. They did remove the neck cords. We were given rags and told to wash the floors. We washed the floors of the Frigate from late in the brightness until the next brightness. We did this for almost three sixes. The forty third came and went. That was how we knew how long we had been there. Then another forty third came and went. It began to appear that the maiden was correct. We would never earn enough for Nalkatat to remove us. It was also during this time that I began to read messages from Aeia. I thought of Aeia more and more while I scrubbed the floors and tables of the Frigate. One brightness the message came clearly into my mind: I have been there, persevere. It was Aeia who was sending this thought, I was sure.”

I asked Era, “How long ago did that message come to you?”

Era wondered with her expression why I asked that. She told me, “it was shortly after we were taken to the Frigate, so probably three or four sixes.”

I told her, “Aeia’s friend Ua had been sending her messages and one brightness Aeia realized what the messages meant. That was why Kregt was in Refurio and how he helped my group make our way from our camp on the Yuko river bank.”

Era asked, “Aeia sent her friend, Kregt to Refurio? How did she know where to send him to find Ua?”

I never had thought about how she knew that. I said, “I didn’t ask. I thought that Kregt had told her he knew where to go. I know that vuelessas can read thoughts when they want to. I don’t know if that was what Aeia did with Kregt. How did she know I was with you? Did she know that? Is that why you looked up at me the way you did?”

Era smiled and said, “yes. Aeia sent thought to me that a vuelo named Renzt was near and to speak to him. I looked up and took the chance that you were Renzt.”

I wondered at this, “you did not know my name when you spoke to me?”

Era explained further, “once my eyes met yours, I read your name. That is why I repeated that I will serve you. Aeia confirmed in my mind that you were who I was seeking.”

Era and Ooya were stunningly beautiful. I was sure I was missing part of their story. I said, “you are all beautiful, I cannot believe that you only scrubbed the floors and cleaned the boat? You were not used as serving vuelas? Your beauty certainly would have been exploited.”

For the first time, Era looked distressed. She drank some vinho. It was no sip. She swallowed a gulp from the cup. She checked with Ooya, who nodded her approval for what was about to be told. Era said, “yes. We were used as serving vuelas many times. Ooya and I were. We tried to be used instead of Auvee whenever we could. We are trained. She is not. I was used first, two dims after we arrived. I was scrubbing vinho and food waste from a table when a large vuelo pushed me up on the table and penetrated me forcefully. I let him have his way for a moment and then forced his ejaculation. He tried to stay in me but he couldn’t. Not long after he used me, a fight occurred in which he was killed. Nothing was said at that time. Later that dim Ooya was used similarly and that vuelo choked on some meat and he died. The next dim we were left alone. The deaths were forgotten and soon I was thrown onto a table and used by a vuelo that was later killed in a fight involving a game of dotted crystals. That death should not have been blamed on me!”

Era remained in distress for blame that had been heaped upon her for that vuelo’s death. I wondered why she should care?

She continued, “Ooya was used the next dim and the vuelo left, alive. We were thinking that the curse would be forgotten. A couple of dims later we were told that the vuelo who left alive was struck down by the gods from the sky. We asked Auvee what this meant and she said it was a flash from a cloud.”

Era paused, then said, “the occurrence that vuelos would die after using us began to disturb us. We knew there was no real curse, yet, there were those occurrences. The Frigate, as it was called had someone die often. Many dims there would be more than one vuelo killed. Vuelos would also accidentally fall into the harbor where vuelan eating fish would devour them. No one seriously believed that a vuelo would accidentally fall into the harbor to be eaten up, you understand. We began to realize that the criminal gangs were arranging for a vuelo to use us when they wanted to kill that vuelo later. The gangs knew of the supposed curse and used it to blame their murders on us. After the second forty third celebration some sort of official vuelos with coats and weapons came onto the Frigate and asked many questions. They did not ask us anything, but they did ask about a rumor of a curse. After the official’s questions the criminal gangs ceased to use us as an excuse for their murders. We were mostly left alone after that. A few dims later I heard lo Nalkatat being talked about. I read that the owners of the Frigate had suffered some losses at the gambling tables and attributed it to having cursed slavuelas on board. They wanted us removed. I wasn’t sure what this meant. Were they going to throw us into the harbor? They could have thrown us to the vuelan eating fish and no one would miss us! The next dim we were tied together and taken to the gangplank. I was trading thought with Ooya about how to swim with a cord tied to our wrists when we were pushed up the gangplank and into a wagon. A cover was pulled over us and the wagon rolled away. We spent our time in the wagon thanking Sola that we were being taken away from the Frigate, though we knew nothing of where we were going.”

Era stopped her story. The story did not seem to end here. The three of them were still together, I observed, so I had to ask, “did someone buy all three of you?”

Era continued, reluctantly, I thought. “We were taken to a market in some village and then to a market in another. Our reputation for being cursed always preceded us. At every market a vuelo would ask if we were cursed in some way. Each time we would be put back into a wagon and taken to the next village to be put on sale there. We began to rub dirt on our necklace crystals so no one would see them. We thought this small thing would cause us to be purchased by a house or perhaps a village as simple work slavuelas, but, hiding our necklace crystals did not help. Buyers always asked about a curse. Perhaps being cursed is common. No one buys cursed slavuelas for fear that they will become cursed also. We have been through nine or ten sales and auctions, maybe more. We were brought to this market three brightnesses ago.”

She paused and put the vinho to her lips. He eyes stayed on the table. Ooya looked at the same spot on the table. I wondered what they saw in that spot on the table?

Era continued, “they told us that if someone did not buy us here.”

Her story trailed off. She stared into her cup of vinho. I knew the answer, but I had to ask. “No one ever bought you, did they, Era?

Her eyes slowly found their way to mine. When she looked at me I saw the reason for the existence of vuel itself. She said, “you did, lo Renzt.”

Aeia 1.3

I am vuelan

This story is told by Aeia.

Gald and Dekt lifted me back up to look over the lookout wall at the crowd gathered on the grounds of the hacienda. There were also more vuelans coming up the Lago road to the hacienda.

“What do they want from me? Do they think I control something? Do they think I have some authority? Do they think I know what the gods do?”

Dekt looked unsure. Gald was calmly thinking this through. Gald was with me in Centium the previous brightness when the vuelans of Centium asked me for any information I could give them. He asked me, “my amora, what do you read from them?”

I looked out toward them and concentrated. “They want me to say something to them. They want me to tell them that the danger has passed.”

Gald held me and asked, “do you trust what Ua and Exthius have told you?”

“Yes. I trust them.” I turned to Dekt and asked, “do you know the Fafoaloans? Can we trust what they tell us?”

Dekt spoke assuredly, “I am not completely familiar with the Fafoaloans, though I would believe them in this matter. My information comes from the Resjed. They have removed all sensed devices from our near space. We have locations for the devices that were put on Vul. The device inside the amber crystal was disabled. I, too, believe we are safe.”

“Will all of you accompany me to talk to them?”

They all answered, “yes, my vuelessa,” Something about the way they answered this time was different. Maybe it wasn’t the way they answered but the way I heard it. I looked to all of them and nodded, “you are all kind.” I heard myself say that and was sure it sounded different. Were my perceptions of myself changing? I thought about going before the crowd of vuelans and wanted to check my face and put on the right ves. No. That is not what they want to see. They want to see me.

I gripped Gald’s hand and asked, “my Gald, do I look alright?”

He whispered to my ear, “put some oil on your lips, amora, remember, you are beautiful.”

We walked toward the crowd with Murgad and Brand preceding me. Everyone was anticipating what I was going to say. I didn’t know what they wanted to hear. I smiled at them in the distance and when I was within a few measures, I stopped and presented myself to them. I stood up with my ves at my feet. I lifted my face to the crowd while I inhaled. Yes. I had their full attention. I called out so that I would be heard, “I will serve you.

No one called out or asked a question. They were being polite? I motioned to Dekt. I called, “this is my brother, Dekt. He is a Tesar Ranger. I have received information and lo Dekt has confirmed that the danger brought by the invading Intempla has passed. We are safe now.”

A vuelo and his espa stepped forward from the crowd. The vuelo spoke, “vuelessa, we have trust in you. We were horrified to learn of the threat that we faced and that we were completely ignorant of that threat. We have not slept. We are extremely concerned. We do not know who we can trust.”

I read that this vuelo’s opinion was shared by many in the crowd. I stepped forward and addressed the vuelo and his espa, “lo vuelo, what is your name?” I had read his name already. I wanted him to introduce himself and his espa to the crowd.

The vuelo called, “I am lo Golinden. This is my espa, la Golia.”

I read that the espa, Golia, was not sure she trusted what I was going to say. I spoke to everyone, “You can trust what you see.” I said it and I waited. The vuelans heard me and agreed with this. Golia agreed and was more willing to hear more.

Another in the crowd spoke up, “Vul belongs to the gods. The gods decide what we do.”

The gods decide was the predominant attitude of the vuelan population. The red gods, the Resjed, limited activity on Vul by not allowing armies to form. This prevented genocide from occurring. There were other restrictions such as limits on technology. There are regulations on trade. The purpose of vuel was to multiply the population. The gods, however, did not involve themselves in the minutia of vuel. The gods also did not encourage worship of them. The common deity of vuel is Sola. Vuelans accepted this concept.

I said to the vuelo that spoke to me, “the gods are not Sola. There is a creator God that gave Sola to Vul. The same creator God gave Sola to the red gods.” I stopped to let everyone consider this concept. It was logical, yet I was not sure what their reaction would be.

Another in the crowd said to me, “vuelessa, you were brought here by the gods. They brought you to Vul from the faraway lands. The gods must want you to say these things to us.”

A vuela called out, “did the gods tell you to say these things to us?”

I looked at the vuelo, “what is your name, lo vuelo?” He told me, “what is your name, la vuela?” I asked anyone’s name that spoke up in order for the crowd to become acquainted with each other. “Yesia, Topolid, the gods did not tell me to say this. The gods did bring me here from the faraway lands. My purpose is to advance vuel.”

Yesia said, “tell us what to do, vuelessa.”

This was what I thought would happen. I lifted my palms to them and said, “I cannot tell you what to do. You must decide that on your own. You have the ability to determine your future.” Now I found Golia again and said this to her, “when you make your own future, you will believe in your future.”

This could be a difficult idea for the vuelans to accept. I waited.

A vuelo in the crowd moved forward through the crowd. I read his name as he came toward me. He called to me, “vuelessa, you are not vuelan. The faraway lands are another, different world. How do we know we can believe what you are saying?′

Someone else said, “she is Oseio’s sister. She must be vuelan. I grew up with Oseio.”

“La vuela, what is your name?”

The vuela said, “I am Ahazi, vuelessa. I also remember her brother Dekt.”

I walked to Ahazi. Oseio’s consciousness flowed into mine about her childhood with this vuela. I smiled at the fond memories. I took her hands in mine and met her eyes. I said, “you and Oseio played endlessly in the upper creek with your grass dolls.” I turned to the vuelo, “your name is Nidonat?”

The vuelo knew I had never spoken to him before. He had never been in my presence before this brightness. When I said his name he understood something of my ability. Others in the crowd assumed we had met before. Nidonat’s stature was not hurt. He was the only one I had impressed by saying his name. “Nidonat, have you met my brother, Dekt?”

He said, “I have never met him. I know of his reputation.”

Dekt stepped forward and offered his palm to Nidonat. Dekt said to him as well at the crowd, “this vuelessa is my sister. Our parents are vuelan. My parents assist the red gods in the selection of vuelan beings in the faraway lands. Our parents had raised their kids, my sister and brother and me before they were sent to the faraway land to live and study the populations there. During their work there, they found that they were not finished raising kids.”

Dekt put his hands on my shoulders and told them, “this is the vuelita that surprised them!” The crowd laughed and said AH! Dekt continued, “Aeia was born in the faraway land. She was raised there and learned all of the societal and governmental principals from those lands. She will be a great resource to vuel.”

Nidonat said to me, “I ask your kindness, vuelessa.”

I turned to Nidonat, took his hand and lowered my head to him. When I lifted my eyes he was assessing me carefully. I owned his attention. “I will serve you, lo vuelo.” His eyes lifted to mine. I read from him that he believed me.

A vuelo called from the crowd, “we cannot defend ourselves from enemies that come from the stars. We are dependent upon the Resjed for that, vuelessa.”

“What is your name, lo vuelo?”

“My name is Bukik. I was with the Tesars many annaros ago.” I saw the elderly vuelo begin to make his way though the crowd. I read from Dekt as the vuelo came forward that he had been a respected, highly ranked officer with the Tesar Rangers.

I stepped aside to allow Dekt to salute him by lifting his closed right fist straight up in front of his right shoulder. The elderly vuelo returned the salute. I went to my knees before this vuelo to show him respect. When I lifted up to him he looked at me seriously and said, softly, “no one trains that kind of respect. You must be able to read well.”

I lowered my face again and whispered to him as I lifted my eyes to meet his, “I can read everything in your memory, my lo vuelo.”

Bukik said quietly to me, “then you know more than I remember.″ He turned to the crowd and announced, “we must ask the Resjed to cooperate with us for the defense of vuel. This vuelessa should be the one who asks them.”

A vuela from the crowd called out, “are the gods here with you this brightness?”

This was a young vuela. I read that her vuelita was with her but I couldn’t see the kid. “La vuela, what is your name?”

“My name is Etha, vuelessa. You speak to the gods. We know you do.”

I knew this subject was going to come up. “La Etha, there are no gods here now. I may see one soon. Be kind to understand that I do not summon them. They come to us when they want something from us.”

Yesia, who had asked me about the gods earlier, quickly asked, “what can we possibly give the gods that they do not have?”

I could have bessed Yesia for asking this. I announced to the crowd, “we can give them a family.”

Topolid asked, “do you mean that they want to live here with us? Why do they need us to help them do that?”

I read that there were those in the crowd that knew the truth. I also read from the crowd that they did not think I was going to tell them what was going on. They were wrong. I lifted my palms to them and called, “the Resjed beings cannot live on Vul. They are protecting and developing the vuelan vuel so that they can blend themselves with our descendants in the future. The Resjed will become vuelan.”

Topolid and Golinden and Golia all asked a similar question at the same time, “are the Resjed going to take over Vul from us?”

“No. We are going to become like the Resjed at the same time the Resjed become like we are.” I could read the questions rising up. I held up my palms and told them, “this will not take place for a hundred annaros!”

Golia asked, “how can you be sure?”

“The Resjed that are living now and their kids and the kids for the next few generations are not suited for life on Vul. The Resjed must gradually become part of vuelan families. This process will take a hundred annaros.”

Etha asked, “are you part Resjed already, vuelessa?”

“I do not know that, Etha, but we all may be in a small way, already like the Resjed.”

Nidonat asked, “is that why they defend us?”

I nodded slowly. “Yes, that is why. They need to become us and we will become them in a hundred annaros. The Resjed are defending the home of their descendants.” I looked at Golia as I finished saying this and read her satisfaction with what she had heard this brightness. I went to Golia and said to her, “I have been open with you, vuelasel, do you feel more confident?”

Golia extended her palm, saying, “I did not expect to hear what I heard, vuelessa. You are kind.”

I was gratified by her comment. I told her, “there will be other questions that I will be able to answer. I will always receive your questions. You know where I can be found.”

Others from the crowd came to me to ask questions and I answered each of them until everyone was satisfied. Finally, I called to everyone, “in your kindness! Do not let this concern take your joy of vuel! Go! Enjoy vuel!”

Most of the crowd began to move away. A few lagged behind. I read that they had another question. One of the vuelos was Topolid. I was about to put my ves on and held it in my hand.

I asked for their concern, “lo vuelos?”

The vuelos addressed me. Topolid spoke for them, saying, “vuelessa, we are impressed with your presentation.” He motioned to Dekt, adding, “your brother has the respect of all vuel. Your background will be valuable to vuel. Our concern remains that you are not vuelan.”

I did not answer. I wondered if any of them would be alive in a few moments because Dekt’s anger was echoing in my brain. This was rage. Male rage. Rage that will only be satisfied with an opponent’s death. Dekt stepped in front of me and I almost tripped stepping back.

Instant fear came from Topolid and the other vuelos. They all held their palms up defensibly, to say, “we mean nothing by this, captain Dekt.” Topolid added, “we ask your kindness, commander.”

Dekt unleashed the heat of Sola, telling them, “you will leave here uninjured only due to the circumstances of the past six that has caused great fear and upheaval. Do you know why you, or most of the population of Centium is alive this brightness? It is NOT because of the Tesars. We did not have a ranger within a brightness of Centium. We are tracing the council authority who made sure all of us were a horizon away from Centium in the brightnesses leading up to the Forty Third. Do you understand what I am telling you? The scheme was to have no one protecting Centium and that part of the scheme worked. No one was guarding Centium. The Intempla and the vuelans whose brains had been replaced had a free and open chance to destroy every vuelan in Centium. The Resjed were only going to be able to destroy the attacking devices once the signals were transmitted. That would have meant that most of the population of Centium would have had their brains turned to ash.”

Dekt pointed at me. I was frozen a few steps away. Through clenched teeth, he declared, “THAT, colored oil vuela and her friends, whoever they are, decided to find out how to stop the Intempla operations in Centium. Understand this: She and her friends could have simply run away. I have one question for you! Is she vuelan?”

No one moved. There was no sound.

Then, Dekt asked,again, “Well, is she?

Topolid and the vuelos with him immediately agreed, “YES, captain, she is vuelan. She certainly is.”

They gave me their attention, telling me, “your service was bold vuelessa! We are grateful, vuelessa. We are certainly grateful!”

Dekt was not satisfied, he said, “AND?”

They understood, and continued, “you are as vuelan as any vuelan. Vuel is richer with you, and vuel is richer with your friends!” With this they bowed and stepped away. I read that they felt lucky to be walking away from Dekt, in his current temper.

The desayun meal on the patio was delayed for us by E’ella and V’aya. Kregt and Eloe came to join us, having enjoyed each other late into the early brightness.

Eloe had read the tumult from me and sent thought to me: What is happening? Are you alright?

I sent the thought back to her: I am alright. Join us for desayun, if the two of you can part for a few moments. I also read from my brother that he had gotten the name Pargud from Towg’s report of the council meeting when we returned last brightness.

At the table, Kregt asked, “Eloe tells me there was some commotion out there this early brightness.”

I glanced at Gald, urging him to give the explanation. He said, “yes, there was, Kregt. There were hundreds of vuelans on the fields by Lago road who wanted to see their vuelessa.”

I was about to disagree with his explanation when I realized that Gald had described the occurrence accurately. Gald, then said, softly, “go ahead and swallow, my amora.”

I had stopped chewing when I heard his description of the events and knew it was true. Kregt and Eloe were nodding to each other and I noticed Eloe’s necklace. This allowed me to change the subject. “Eloe, that is a beautiful necklace. It makes you look, like a vuelessa!”

Eloe’s face reddened. I thought to her: I meant that as a compliment! She calmed and said “Kregt bought this for me in Pleasance. The crystals are on a hair strand cord so it’s invisible. I wore it when we flew here in the middle of the dim because I didn’t think we were going to.”

I read the rest of the thought: Land in one piece. I said her, and to everyone, “you were able to read the distress, and without knowing, you both risked your coupled vuel to get on something you thought might kill you, to come help us?”

Eloe only nodded. Kregt hugged her.

Dekt touched my hand to allow him to ask, “Kregt, Eloe, I must to tell all of you how great your efforts for vuel have been. I have already announced my admiration for all of you publicly and that was before I knew of this detail.”

Dekt paused before he asked his next question. He did not want to ask for information that he did not want to know about. There was one thing he had to ask, “I must know, what did you think you were going to do with the floating block that would be of any value?”

This was a difference in thinking and knowledge of air combat that an Earth human has and a vuelan does not. I tried to read what Kregt was going to say. Would it insult my brother? I wasn’t able to read anything from him! Did he not know what to say?

Kregt shrugged. It was his shrug. Kregt is famous for that shrug! What is he going to say? I couldn’t read anything!

Finally, Kregt said, “I had no idea what to do! I thought Brand would know what to do, and Gald! Gald knows about oils. That’s the closest thing to a bomb that we have here on Vul.”

I thought to myself.: Uh oh. Eloe’s eyes opened wide, having read my concern.

Dekt listened, then asked Kregt, “what is a bomb?”

My brother did not know the Earth word. What was Kregt going to say? Why couldn’t I read him?

Kregt pointed to Brand at the table, and said, “lo Brand can tell you. He has been in the most successful guard force in the galaxy. He will explain better than I am able!”

Dekt said, “Ah! Lo Brand, we must discuss this further. That is, with the approval of your vuelessa.“

I was glad to move to a different subject and said, “my Brand needs no one’s permission to speak. You should know, Dekt, that Brand has training and experience that would be useful to the Tesar.”

Brand spoke up, “my first loyalty is to you, vuelessa. You know that.”

I gave him an expression of gratitude, telling him, “that means we both serve the interest of vuel.”

Dekt accompanied Murgad, Gald, Brand and I into Centium later in the brightness. We did not reach the plaza. Crowds stopped the wagon as they filled the street. They knew which lane I would use. I stood on the back of the wagon and answered their questions until all were satisfied.

They called out, “tell us of the plot.” “Tell us of the rich families that betrayed vuel!”

One group of vuelos yelled,”impale the traitors! Impale the traitors! Impale them on the plaza on the poles of the railway! ”

I knew this would be a horrible spectacle that could scar vuel itself. I said to Gald, “be kind to help me down.” Dekt stayed on the wagon, watching while Gald and Murgad guided me though the crowd to the group of vuelos leading the chant. A clearing opened for me as I reached the vuelos.

I stood in front of the group of vuelos and in a moment, they gave me their tentative attention. I held their eyes and knelt. Gald knew my ability to read him and sent the thought to me: They are watching carefully, make them thank Sola. I was glad that I had put my face down by this time as I could not prevent an inward chuckle. I thought: That is why I love you, my Gald. I unhooked the catch at my shoulder, moving my hands slowly along my legs, feeling the vuelen’s assessment. I lifted and placed my foot. The vuelans nearby were watching closely. I lifted my face to the vuelos and had their complete attention.

I said loudly enough so that everyone would hear me, “I will serve you.” Their assessment continued as I slowly smiled. Their gaze found my eyes to say, “vuel needs vuelen like yourselves.” I said and paused. They agreed with me. I continued, “vuelen such as you, must lead the future of Centium.” I paused for them to realize that there is a higher calling for their efforts. They seemed to be receptive, so I continued, “everyone is disturbed at what we have found out in the past few brightnesses.” I stepped forward with my palms facing them. I asked, “will you help me bring calm to vuel?”

They answered, “yes, vuelessa. What can we do?” I read which one was the dominant in the group. His name was Gittok. I went to him and said, “justice must be carried out in Centium, don’t you agree?”

Gittok called out, “we all want the justice of the spike for the traitors!”

I looked disappointed and touched his arm, leaning close to him and whispered, “Gittok, you don’t want to horrify the young vuelans of Centium with the spectacle of hundreds of vuelans writhing on impalement spears, do you?” I put my hand on his chest and lowered my forehead to ask for his cooperation. I read that he was conflicted about his answer. I waited.

He was skeptical, “do you have something better in mind, vuelessa?”

“I will not tell anyone what to think.” Though telling them what to think was exactly what I was doing. “It may be better to give an example of vuel that demonstrates how evil and horrible the traitorous families were, compared to what vuel is supposed to be.”

Gittok announced, “yes! They are to be scorned forever!”

I was counting on Gittok saying what he was thinking. I agreed with him by saying, “we do not want this to ever be forgotten in vuel!”

Gittock said, “the vuelessa is right! This must never be forgotten!” The crowd agreed with Gittok in this.

“The lesson we have learned must be taught all over Vul!”

Many in the crowd agreed and called, “yes, all over Vul!” “This lesson must go across all of Vul.”

I wanted to move the thinking from a horrible spectacle, which might not be what the judges and constables decide. I turned to the crowd and opened my palms. I announced, “there are truths you must hear.”

Gittok and his vuelen were in favor of this. They called, “yes! There are truths!”

I had everyone’s attention. Information was scarce in Centium. I nodded my head and said, “The traitorous families were duped by the invading Intempla.” I read from the crowd that this was something they had not considered. I continued, “the traitorous families did not go to safe places. They would have been killed along with all vuelans.”

This brought gasps and sounds of surprise. Then, some in the crowd called out, “if not for you, vuelessa!”

I read one of the vuelen in the crowd that called that out and went to him. I put my hands behind my back and nodded to him and said, “lo vuelo, do you think I could have stopped anything by myself?”

He was clever with his reply, “vuelessa, you can start much more than you can stop!” this brought laughter and I bowed to him.

“Norgidan is correct.” I paused to get the crowd’s attention again. Norgidan was puzzled about how I knew his name. “The fact is, the traitorous families were duped into leaving or selling their estates and properties for nothing. They have punished themselves. They are now the lowest of any vuelan in Centium. They will never again want to be seen on the lanes of Centium for vuelans will recognize them and ridicule them for their stupidity. How many of you would like to personally ridicule them?”

Vuelans in the crowd called out, “I would!” “I, too!” “I would go to where they are to do so!”

I let them savor that thought, then held up my palms to them. Moments later they gave me their attention again. “What will most vuelans think about them. Those who are not ridiculing them?” The crowd did not understand. They wondered what I was asking. I continued, “most vuelans will point to them and tell each other that once those families were rich in property and wealth but were poor in vuel. Now they have no wealth and must learn the meaning of vuel. Would it be better to send them somewhere to struggle and scrape to exist. Perhaps to small villages. Small villages might help them. Perhaps not. The families will live only if they demonstrate an understanding of vuel. The vuelans of the small villages will not be kind. The vuelans of the small villages will have no pity. Vuel is more important than wealth in the small villages.” I paused to let the crowd consider this remedy.

A vuelo in the crowd said, “the vuelans of the small villages will kill them!”

I nodded to him, read his name, and said to him, “yes, lo Preloap, the villagers may indeed kill them. That may be the only lesson that vuel offers the families. Vuel will take it’s course.”

A vuela called out to me, “vuelessa, the vuelans of the small villages will be amazed that the families where allowed to live. They will not understand why we let them live.”

I said to the vuela, “vuela, you are beautiful, tell us your name.”

“I am Iwia,vuelessa, but you know all of our names already.”

I lowered my head to her, “I may know some names, Iwia. What do you think the families will tell the villagers to explain why they were not put on the spear?”

Iwia did not know what to say. Preloap spoke up in her stead, “the families will quickly tell the villagers that the vuelans of Centium showed them kindness when they deserved no kindness. This will be a lesson that will spread throughout vuel.”

I gestured for Preloap to continue.

Preloap said, further, “and vuel will be stronger for this lesson.”

I knelt before lo Preloap. I looked up at him and said, “you are wise, lo Preloap.”

Someone said, “the vuelessa is concerned for vuel.” Another said, “the vuelessa Aeia cares about vuel.” “She is Aeia. She prevented disaster and now encourages kindness. Only Aeia would do such a thing!”

I heard the comments and told them, “we should all give kindness when no kindness is deserved.” This crowd agreed with me. I read that Gald had walked up behind me with my ves. I lifted my arm for him to put it over my head and hook it at my shoulder.

The crowd was mollified. We moved on toward the plaza. In the wagon Dekt put his arm around my neck, hugged me close and spoke into my ear, “little vuela, the vuelans of Centium amor you, and more than that, they trust you. You have become the vuelessa of Centium. And the vuelans of Centium do not understand why the danger was aloud by the gods. I have not been in Centium for more than three rotations. I am certain now that my absence was on purpose.”

We were able to move slowly toward the Commerce building. Vuelans shouted questions to me as we moved along. Many of the vuelans in this area had seen me here the previous brightness. I looked up toward the planks. The planks were empty. On the steps of the constable’s building a large vuelo stood, watching the crowd and our wagon. I recognized Buronon, the constable’s magistrate that I had presented myself to long ago. Our eyes met. I crossed my hands between my breasts.

Buronon lifted his closed fist to his shoulder. Was he saluting me? I lowered my head to him. When I raised my eyes again he lowered his fist and nodded. Buronon intended to salute me. What, or who, does he think I am?

I continued to answer questions called to me from the crowds. We moved slowly toward the commerce building.

The discussions with the council members were brief. Dekt spoke to several council members. I read that most of the conversations involved calming the vuelans of Centium and that my interaction in the streets is bringing more calm than anything else. The general idea was that they wanted me to calm the population of Centium.

Thoughts from Ua and Imagination used for creating joy came to me: We are reading what is occurring in Centium and with you. We will be staying in Centium to support you.

I returned their thought: You are kind, my dear friends.

Dekt questioned several of the council members about any details they could give him about Pargud. I read that he suspected that Pargud could be Intempla, meaning that his brain was replaced with an advanced intelligence device.

Dekt and Tallan, along with several other council members came to me and asked, “vuelessa, do you think the vuelans on the lanes understand what has happened here?”

I knew this question was coming and I was trying to understand why It was being asked. I said, “lo vuelen, the vuelans on the lanes of Centium understand as much about what has happened as you do.”

Mald almost laughed at my answer. “Aeia, we are sure that the vuelans of the lanes understand as well as we do. We would like to understand as well as you do!”

I looked at all of them with new comprehension. “I will speak openly, lo Brand, was a member of a defense force from the planet Earth, the planet we both were brought from. He knows more detail than I do, you may discuss this further with him. I will describe my understanding of the attack. The Intempla were using a wave that goes through the air. You know that dogs can hear things that we cannot. The wave they were using would have caused brains as large as the brain found in a vuelan to vibrate at a speed that would have caused it to become soft or liquid. We would all have died. The Intempla used transports in the sky that were invisible to the Resjed defenders that keep us safe. The Intempla transports were to send the signal to devices on the surface of Vul that made the waves strong enough to kill. They needed the cooperation of some vuelans to allow this part of the plan. The Resjed sensed what was occurring. There are vuelans from another world, called Fafoaloa, who were giving information to the Resjed. I read that some of you know about the Fafoaloans?” I paused.

Mald and Ralt and Tallan nodded.

I continued, “the Resjed transports were ready to disable the Intempla attack transports as soon as the Intempla began their attack. When the Intempla attacked, they could no longer hide their transports. It is not known if the transmitted signal would have killed vuelans before the Resjed were able to destroy the Intempla transports. You may ask lo Brand for details of these occurrences.”

I read no questions. What detail could they ask for? They didn’t know anything about any type of technology.

Tallan spoke up, “vuelessa, we credit you with identifying and preventing what surely would have been certain death for many if not all of vuel. We also believe that you have the ability to speak to the Resjed and convince them to let us help with our own defense.”

The lack of questions reminded me of the reality of vuel. I said, “lo Tallan, council members, I will use every ability I have to advance vuel. I believe the Resjed must help. I believe they will help if we ask them to.” I could read that the council was optimistic that I would be successful. I wondered if their optimism was justified.

That dim, after we had returned from Centium we received the visit I was waiting for. Kerkd came to me from the lookout. He announced, “my vuelessa, a transport has arrived.”

I asked, “on the field, the same place as before? Did the vuelans react to seeing it?” I couldn’t believe Zhodag had simply floated to Casa Lago in plain sight of the crowd of vuelans that were camped in the fields.

Kerkd nodded no. “I don’t think they are seeing it.”

Kregt asked, “was there a foggy blur that followed the transport?” Kerked nodded yes and Kregt left the room.

Kerkd explained, “my vuelessa, I believe the vision was blurred. The crowd sees nothing.”

We met captain Zhodag at the front door to welcome him to Casa Lago. I knelt and presented myself, dropping my ves to the floor. “I will serve you, captain Zhodag.” I said as I stood and opened my palms to him.

Zhodag stood with Kregt and acknowledged my presentation by assessing me. This is vuel, I reminded myself. I had a reason to present myself to Zhodag. I wanted something. I wanted something significant. The red god’s eyes came to my breasts. Why was he attracted to me? I read him. My light skin was erotic in his mind. I inhaled to accentuate my breasts. The female Resjed may be similar to me, but my appearance was captivating to this Resjed.

His eyes found mine. “I will serve you and I will serve the interests of the Resjed.” Where did that come from? The interests of the Resjed? It was the correct thing to say, I knew that. How did I know? I stepped toward him. This also seemed correct and proper. I looked into his face. The red complexion had some blue in it. Was this normal? Had I seen this before? Zhodag knew me. How does he know me? There is a relationship between us. I realized what it was.

“Lo Zhodag, you are aware of the abilities of a vuelessa?”

Zhodag said to me, “Aeia, the Resjed trained the first vuelessas in vuel many generations ago. You and your friend, Ua, she who is now with the Fafoaloan, have developed your abilities beyond the usual.”

While Zhodag was saying this to me I read that I had something that was of value to him. Reading his thought was difficult. I was unsure that I had read anything of value.

Zhodag’s teeth showed. He was laughing. “Take a moment, vuelessa, find what you are looking for.”

By the time he finished saying this I found what I was seeking. “I carry Resjed DNA.” I saw his expression soften. I added, “the Resjed DNA I carry is from your family line.”

Zhodag nodded slowly. He told me, “the brightness has come that our plans must become known. We must discuss many things.”

E’ella and V’aya, came to us with chalices of vinho and knelt, E’ella in front of Zhodag and V’aya in front of Kregt.

Zhodag looked at E’ella and, remembering his previous dinner, asked, “have you, perhaps, roasted a duck?”

E’ella looked at me,unsure and fearful. I said calmly to her, “be kind to tell the captain that you have a duck roasting for him.”

E’ella bravely said, without looking up at the captain, “yes, we are roasting a duck for you.”

Now I laughed, “we have a duck for you, Captain. Come to the great room. E’ella and V’aya will serve us there.” I leaned down and whispered to E’ella, “he loves the way you roast a duck.”

I sent thought to Eloe: Are you reading him also? Can you tell me if I am missing something?

Her thought came back to me: He is difficult for me to read. I am not related to him as you are.

That is probably true. If you could help with what Kregt is thinking, you would be kind.

We listened as Captain Zhodag described for us many of the details of moving Earth humans to Vul. The efforts to form a culture with the help of trained vuelas that came to be called vuelessas. The formation of vuelan language using words taken from different Earth languages.

Kregt was anxious to know about the current science and asked, “what is used to coat our bodies for transport? What effects does it have on us?”

Zhodag smiled and nodded at the question. “The distance involved requires more than seven annaros to complete. The transport coating has the effect of slowing metabolism so that Earth humans age only one annaro during the voyage.”

Kregt had a question he really wanted to ask, “Earth males have a pouch of skin under our penises. The coating changes this skin. Will the pouch return?”

Zhodag answered seriously. “Vuel would not exist if Earth humans did not regain fertility.” He addressed me, “the coating has effects that lower age perception, as well as reproductive ability. Earth females require one to two annaros to regain fertility.” He looked at Kregt again to tell him, “Earth males become fertile rotation by rotation after the first eight to ten rotations. You should be completely virile by your second annaro in vuel.”

I read Eloe sighing relief at this news. Fertility had been mentioned at the Domesticate. We were taught to use the Jae seed to prevent fertilization. No mention of the lack of fertility had been discussed. They had said nothing about what I was now learning from Zhodag.

E’ella and V’aya brought the roast duck for Captain Zhodag. I waited for him to eat a few bites of the duck before asking him any questions. We all had a plate of food and were engaging in light conversation. I was paying close attention to Zhodag. A lull in conversation occurred from around the table. I was waiting for this to happen and asked, “Captain Zhodag, as vuelans, we want to be able to defend ourselves. We want the Resjed to assist us in advancing our abilities to do so. Will you assist us?” I had to ask the question this way because I had never heard the word technology used in vuel.

Zhodag, to my surprise, asked, “you want our assistance to advance vuelan technology?”

He used the Earth word, so I used it also. “Yes, Captain. Vuel must advance technologically in order to become the sort of population the Resjed are trying to foster.” I read that Eloe, Kregt and Brand were keenly interested in what Zhodag would say and my brother and my amoro were making assumptions about what the word technology meant. The future of vuel was about to be announced.

Zhodag was chewing on a duck leg. He noticed he had all our attention. He finished chewing and took a gulp of vinho. He ate like a young vuelo. I had no idea of this being’s age. If my parents knew him then he would be much older. He could, I supposed, be a son of the Zhodag my parents told me of.

He swallowed and spoke thoughtfully, “we intend to bring several new technologies to vuel in the near future. The process will accelerate depending how the current situation with the traitorous families is adjudicated in Centium.”

I read that this was not only Zhodag’s idea. He was giving us the considered opinion from a Resjed authority. “We are glad to be apprised of such. I will ask your opinion of what the Resjed would do with the traitorous families.”

Zhodag smiled again, “vuelessa, call your vuelas and anyone that can come, I want them to hear what I am going to say directly from me.”

I did as he asked and more. I sent Dekt out to the fields to bring some representatives of the vuelans camping there. One of the vuelans that returned with him was the vuelo, Norgidan, that had been there previously. There were five others with him. Zhodag had finished the duck by the time we had assembled.

I introduced the visitors, “my vuelans, this is Captain Zhodag. He is of the Resjed. He wants to announce something to us. This information is not privileged, that is why you have been invited to hear it with me.” I read that Dekt had been in the presence of Resjed before but the others may be thinking they are seeing a god.

Zhodag spoke, using the word vuelan to mean human in general, “I am Captain Zhodag of the Resjed. We are vuelans similar to all of you. My vuelans have attained abilities that are available to any vuelan. I have been asked to assist you to become able to attain those same abilities.”

Zhodag paused and let the group think about what he had said. He continued, “we are willing to provide this assistance. We wish to witness how the traitorous families are dealt with. The outcome of this will tell us that your society is ready to accept advancement.”

I read that Norgidan was anxious to ask the same question I had asked, but was either afraid or was being polite. “Lo Norgidan, do you have a question?”

He nodded to me. He was sure I knew his question. He said, “would you ask the Resjed what outcome his vuelans want to see?”

I stepped to lo Norgidan and took his arm. I said, “you may ask him yourself. Address him as Captain Zhodag.”

Norgidan was now sure of himself. He addressed the Captain, “Captain Zhodag, we would ask what outcome your, the Resjed want to see.”

I squeezed Norgidan’s arm to let him know he had done well. Zhodag paused. He wanted to be patient. I tried to read his opinion of the usual Vuelan.

Zhodag said, “we, as Resjed, do not direct vuelans to do anything. The only action we take is to prevent large groups from killing other large groups, when we recognize such activity.” Zhodag looked at E’ella and motioned to her, saying, “we have never asked you to think of us as superior to you. This vuela roasts duck better that any Resjed!”

V’aya embraced E’ella in happiness. Many in the room laughed at what Zhodag had said.

Zhodag continued, “I can only tell you one thing, the vuelessa has excellent judgment in this matter. It would be wise to follow her direction.” He paused again. Everyone looked at me. Kregt had an expression that is known on Earth as a shit eating grin. I wondered if there was such an expression in vuel. Eloe sent his thought to me: This proves what Kregt has said, that you are supposed to be here.

Over the next few brightnesses, vuel became it’s own driving force. My trips into Centium became parades. Vuelans followed our wagon and called out to me in the streets. Gald, Murgad and Brand were never away from my side. I no longer answered questions. Vuelans told each other what I had said. The council meetings were different. They addressed me as an authority no matter how much I would admonish them for such an attitude. I offered little more advice, my advice had been repeated so often that it echoed in my thoughts. This was my purpose as vuelessa. I had inspired them. My purpose was to influence and inspire.

Dekt came to Casa Lago later in the six and announced that all of the families that had been in on the plot had been accounted for. It had become a routine matter, all of them informing on each other. There were over two hundred vuelans being held for the plot.

We were served vinho on the patio. Dekt and two of his officers, Lorkat and Wegt were there. The discussion quickly turned serious. Dekt and his officers stopped talking.

I read their anxiety and said it for them, “the magistrates want impalings.” I had been receiving this imprecise thought for the past couple of brightnesses.

Wegt was acting as liaison with the magistrates. He said, “the magistrates want you to explain this to the vuelans of Centium. The magistrates, though, do not want to upset vuel. They see the joy of vuel returning to Centium. They do not wish to make a final pronouncement until the sentiment on the lanes of Centium approves and agrees with such judgment.”

By the time Wegt had finished his careful explanation, I had read his thought and considered how to explain my answer. I said, “lo Wegt, I expected this to be the judgment of the magistrates. I would have expected no other outcome. Their judgment, simply, must be carried out in a different way. You are meeting with them at first brightness?”

Wegt was surprised and smiled at my question, wondering what I had in mind. He said, “yes, my vuelessa?”

I made my request, knowing he would agree, “would you be kind to allow a simple vuelessa to accompany you to meet with the magistrates?”

We left Casa Lago before the brightness. This allowed us to arrive when the Constable and Magistrate’s building opened. Wegt was expected. He told me, “the magistrates consented to explain their decisions to you personally. They expressed their sensitivity for vuel in this matter.”

For this meeting, I requested Ua and Imagination used for creating joy attend. Imagination used for creating joy would be called Exthius of Fafoaloa for this purpose. Ua was using her Fafoaloan name, Exerva, but she would be called the vuelessa Ua, for today’s meeting. Brand, Gald, and Murgad were also with me. Dekt, Lorkat and Wegt accompanied us into the building.

Attendants met us in the halls and ushered us into a chamber. There were benches of stone here. We were offered something to drink and told that the magistrates would appear soon.

I sent this thought to Ua once we were settled: Ua, you know that we cannot allow hundreds of impalings in the plaza.

She returned the thought: We could not agree more. You are correct that the families are victims also and the example set will have lasting effects, whether those effects are good or bad.

I returned the thought: Do not hesitate to advise.

In moments, the magistrates began to come into the large room. They sat in large chairs that were in a curved row facing us in the room. Buronon was one of the last to arrive. I knew he was coming and was waiting for his arrival to stand. He went to his chair and turned to me before sitting. I nodded and stepped to the center of the room to face the circle of magistrates.

I waited. There were two magistrates that were discussing something with each other as they came in. They took their seats in a moment. I went to the floor. I paused before unlatching my ves. Stepping forward, I concentrated on my movement and reading the reactions. I stood and my ves fell to the floor around my feet. I read appreciation as my hands brushed under my breasts before I reached out to show my palms to them. I lifted my face while reading pleasure from several of them. I read appreciation from the one magistrate that was a vuelasel. I also read that she agreed with my thoughts in the matter.

Ua sent the thought: Yes, and there are five more that want to agree with you.

I inhaled and recounted. There were eleven in total. I only had to present well and a majority would carry the opinion in my favor.

Ua sent another thought that agreed with what I had read when I inhaled: There are now two more that want to agree with you.

Buronon rose and addressed his colleagues, “fellow magistrates, This is the vuelessa Aeia. She is known to me.”

This was apparently a required announcement for this session. A vuelan must be known to a magistrate in order to bring an action to them as a group. I knelt again and lowered my head to show respect before rising to my feet again.

Buronon continued, “Aeia and vuelans known to her may be the reason that we yet exist this brightness. It is known by the attending Tesar officers that the railway was burned by those recruited and led by Aeia.

The magistrates all began to rise! I turned from them raised my palms and lowered my head to Gald, Brand, Murgad, Ua and Imagination used for creating joy. This gesture was kind of the magistrates. I turned back to face the circle.

Buronon announced, “It is well known that Aeia has promoted in the vuel of Centium that kindness be shown to the traitorous families who showed no kindness to vuel.” Buronon addressed me, now. “Vuelessa, you must understand that your proposal has no basis in the laws of vuel.”

What Buronon said to me was mostly true. I read several opinions that had found incomplete experience in the application of the laws. I surveyed the magistrates. I could never convince them of something they disagreed with. I was going to have to guide them to disagree with themselves. I said to them, “put them all on impaling spears. The patriarchs. The espas. The kids. Their blood will not wash from the plaza for annaros.” The magistrates gave me their full attention. I continued, “that will be a lesson in vuel that will never be forgotten. What will be the lesson that will be forever understood in vuel?”

The vuelasel magistrate quietly said, “retribution.”

Now three of the magistrates began to discuss historical cases. The examples that had been the basis of the current decision. I was unable to follow what they said to each other due to the names of cases and history I was unfamiliar with. I read serious difficulty with the current decision. I read that I was brought here so that the magistrates could give themselves another opportunity to debate the decision.

An elderly magistrate turned to me and asked, “vuelessa, you were brought here from the faraway lands, is that correct?”

I answered, “yes, magistrate,” while reading the question forming in his mind.

The elderly magistrate found the concept he sought and asked, “do you have examples of the kindness you are suggesting, or principles involved in showing kindness in a situation such as this?”

I said, “yes, magistrate. There are many examples from the faraway lands in which the victorious vuelans helped the vuelans that had tried to destroy them, to recover. In this situation, the families have had everything they owned completely destroyed.”

Another magistrate asked, “are you suggesting that the families be returned to their previous stature and wealth?”

I told him, “no, magistrate, what was once theirs is forever gone. I am suggesting that the families become examples of the kindness of vuel.”

The magistrate pressed, “by sending them away, with nothing, where they may not survive and may be killed by other villagers?”

I agreed with that possibility, “that may happen, magistrate, and that may be the lesson of vuel.”

The magistrate said, “that is not what you think will happen?”

Now I was going to be able to explain to the magistrates the concept I wanted them to understand. I explained, “magistrates, the wealthy families rose to their status because they are intelligent in many ways. They have thrived in vuel because they have survived many things. Removing their intelligence from vuel will hurt vuel. The formerly wealthy families will recover in a few annaros. They will recover by learning the kindness of vuel. First, they will learn the kindness that they were not impaled. They will rebuild their lives only because of the kindness shown to them by other vuelans. They will be castigated by many and this will remind them of their lack of kindness. The few vuelans that show them kindness will profit by their actions. Vuel will advance by those acts of kindness.”

The magistrates began to discuss what I read as procedures between themselves. The gods were mentioned and they looked to Buronon. He nodded and addressed me, “vuelessa, it is known that you converse with the red gods. Is the advice you bring from those gods?”

I made sure I had all their attention and said, “yes magistrates, it is.”

One of the magistrates that had been skeptical said, “if we were to agree to such speculative justice, would the gods demonstrate to us that you have brought their advice?”

I stared at the magistrate and while I allowed a smile to develop, I sent thought to Eloe: I will need you and your amoro to fly over Centium. Will you do this for me and for vuel?

In a moment Eloe had asked Kregt and I read both of their thoughts: Yes.

My confidence grew as I made eye contact with each of the magistrates in the circle. I nodded slightly and told them, “yes, a gesture of support has been agreed to.”

The judgment was to be carried out before dim on the next sixth brightness. The sixth brightness in a six was the usual day that impalings were carried out. I had never seen an impaling, though Ua had witnessed one and the memory I read from her was both vivid and horrific.

The vuelans of all Centium gathered in and as close to the plaza as they could. The Centium guards tried to keep the lanes open for safety concerns. We had come into Centium with first Sola this brightness. Gald, Murgad and Brand were now recognized with me. We were met at the Camino Rio by Centium guards who accompanied us to the Commerce building. Brand now wore the coat and body armor of the Tesar rangers. He had been recruited by Dekt, inducted into the Tesar force and assigned to protect the Vuelessa of Centium.

During past meetings I asked the trade council what the Vuelessa of Centium was. I was told that it was a title not currently held and was being used so that the Tesars could have Brand provide official protection for me. I read that there were other non specific details to the title.

I had come to know Nargut on the council. He had been skeptical of me from the brightness our eyes first met. He was simply a vuelan that questioned everything. This was a good quality for someone serving on the council of trade.

Vendors plied the plaza and the crowds grew throughout the brightness. Several of the council members and I watched from the balcony on the upper floor of the Trade building. There were Impaling spears set up by the remains of the railway.

I asked Tallan and Ralt, “what will be the order of the events in the late brightness?”

Tallan offered explanation, “my vuelessa, the Centium guard will bring the families out and line them up in front of the spears.”

I interrupted to say, “not the kids!” I had been told that the non adult members of the families would not be impaled in any event.

Tallan said, “no, vuelessa, not the kids. The magistrates will assemble on the platform inside the railing of the constables building.” Tallan pointed to the platform with a waist high balustrade separating it from the plaza. I had wondered what that platform was used for. “You, vuelessa, will take your position in between that platform and the Trade Council. We will stand in between this building and the constable’s building.

I didn’t answer, but nodded my understanding.

Ralt asked, “I am told that you promised the magistrates a gesture of support from the gods. Is that true?”

I tilted my head toward Ralt and Tallan to tell them, “yes. That is true. I am counting on the magistrates being impressed by a small gesture.” I sent thought to Eloe: Is everything ready for later in the brightness?

Her thought returned immediately: Stop worrying. We have practiced. We will amaze Centium.

Mid brightness food was brought. The vuelen ate well. Gald encouraged me, “Be kind to yourself and eat something, my amora.”

I nibbled at the food. I did drink juices and vinho.

Later, a constable came out onto the platform and placed a banner on a pole on the magistrates platform. It was time. The vuelen in the plaza gradually noted the banner. Voices were raised. The voices caused other vuelans to notice the banner and those voices joined to raise the noise level on the plaza.

I sent thought to Eloe: Get ready. We are leaving the Trade building for the plaza.

We made our way to the plaza. Centium guards parted the crowds for us to pass. Brand, wearing official armor and weaponry, walked in front of me with Gald and Murgad on either side. I was nervous. Was this going to work?

Ua answered me: Eloe is right. Stop worrying. We have seen it through her eyes and it will be amazing.

I sent the question to Ua: How did you do that?

Ua answered: We will instruct you soon.

Vuelas from the crowd called to me, “Aeia! You are beautiful!” “Veulessa! Will the gods appear?” More than one vuelan called out to me.

I began to see the families being taken out of the constable’s building and marched in cords to the impalement spears. I wondered what they knew? I could not read anything on the matter.

Many vuelans called out, “Aeia is vuel!” “Aeia is vuel!” “The magistrates will agree with Aeia’s gods!” I heard called. I wished that I could stop and remind the vuelans of Centium that the gods did not belong to me!

We walked nearer to the constable’s building platform and Brand stopped. He knew where to stop. I turned and saw that the Trade Council had stopped some lengths back, already.

Drums were heard. The drums became louder. Drummers emerged from the doorway of the constable’s building onto the platform. The magistrates followed. Buronon stepped forward to the balustrade and called out to the crowd. “Hear, Centium!” “Hear ALL Centium!” “HEAR CENTIUM!” “HEAR ALL CENTIUM!” Buronon’s voice carried over the plaza. The crowds quieted. I read from the magistrates that they were pleased that Buronon could project his voice in such a loud manner.

I looked across the plaza. The crowds were now quiet all across the plaza. The bowl shape of the area had acoustic qualities that allowed a booming voice to project across the entire plaza.

I sent thought to Eloe: Float up! The announcement is about to be made. May the creator God be with you!

Buronon continued. “The judgment of the magistrates in the matter of the traitorous families of Centium is impalement.”

AH’s went up from the crowd. I wondered at this. I read overwhelming support from the crowd for kindness. Yet, they agreed with the judgment.

Buronon announced: “The vuelessa Aeia has implored that for vuel, kindness be shown!”

Now, AH’s were heard at several times the volume of the previous AH’s for impalement.

Buronon waited. Then he announced: “The vuelessa Aeia will call on the gods to intercede! May the gods intercede for vuel!”

My thought went to Eloe: Tell me when you are coming up to the first buildings of Centium.

She thought back to me: We are on our way, everything is going well. Give us a short period.

That meant they were several moments away. I turned to all directions nodding to Gald and Murgad to move away. I stepped toward the Trade Council and knelt, but did not present myself. I stood and backed away. I trotted toward the magistrates and knelt, but did not present myself. Again, I stood and backed away and this time, I trotted toward the vuelans in the crowd. Cheering went up. I had not presented myself to the Council or to the magistrates. I stopped several lengths in front of the crowd and knelt. The cheering became deafening. I unhooked my ves. The cheering continued to grow. Could it get any louder? My ves fell away as I lifted and placed my foot in front of myself to rise.

The cheering became deafening. Would I be able to read Eloe in this much noise? I felt my hands stroking up my body. My movements were automatic as my hands reached my breasts. I lifted my face as I spread my arms, opening my palms to the cheering crowd. I looked straight up and paused, closing my eyes. Thoughts came from everywhere that I was communicating with the gods. This time they were correct, mostly. I had asked the creator God to watch over me and Kregt and Eloe this brightness. I held my stance and in moments, the nearby crowd quieted.

Then, I heard a far off rumble of voice. It was like being outside of a stadium when the crowd cheered for a winning point scored at the end of a game.

Eloe’s thought came in clear and sharp: Point to the sky behind the constable’s building!

I thought: My Sola! They are going to fly directly over us! I looked at the crowd and motioned with both hands toward the sky above the constable’s building.

The far off noise came closer. Vuelans had gathered in the lanes between the plaza and Casa Lago to watch for the gods.

Shrieks began to be heard. What was happening? What were Kregt and Eloe doing?

Their floating block came into view. Streamers flowed behind it! What have they done? Shrieks went up from the crowd on the other side of the plaza. The crowd there was getting a view of the streamers.

Now I saw what everyone else saw. The streamers formed and A with red ribbons crossing the A. It was my signature. They were pulling my signature across the sky over Centium.

A vuelessa gives her signature by drawing her initial and sealing it with colored oil from her lips. The signature of Aeia flew over Centium.

Kregt steered directly overhead. I watched them pass. The cheering became a chant : Aeia, Aeia, Aeia, Aeia. I couldn’t see them through the camouflage they had arranged on the floating block. Kregt and Eloe were leaving. Kregt’s actions in the events of the past sixes were never to become known. My friends were leaving Centium and Casa Lago, on their way to The Great Bay.

The crowd cheered wildly. I looked toward the magistrates. Their eyes were fixed on the floating block in the sky. They held up their closed fists at their shoulders to salute the gods.

I waved. I waved my hands from my mouth. The Trade Council and the magistrates and the vuelans of Centium saw me waving in thanks to the gods from whom I had requested assistance.

I was only waving goodbye to my friends. My friends understand vuel. My friends are vuel.

Loee .3

I serve vuel

This story is told by Loee.

The next brightness found me intertwined with Chak. I saw the empty bottles of vinho on the table near his bed. We had amoriged and sipped vinho deep into the dim before we slept. I checked myself. I had put a loe stem in. I had put it in, hadn’t I? I was waking first. Perhaps Chak?

His whisper found my ear, “I’ve been waiting for you to awaken.”

The loe stem was pulled from my vagina. Chak replaced it with his penis. I grasped at his erection and was unable to hold it. My arousal coupled with the slippery lubricant caused from the loe stem allowed him to slide as he wished. I was captive under him. His mouth covered mine as my orgasms began. He sensed what he was causing in me and held his lips to mine. My legs spread and I may have circled my ankles over his back. I remember that possibility.

My lubrication waned after a quarter period, allowing me to grasp his penis enough to encourage his ejaculation. His breathing told me he appreciated my squeezing.

We washed and dressed to have desayun on the Vuelen’s deck. The instructor and Vaya arrived while we were drinking cups of jav. Chak noticed that they were staring intently at him.

He shook his head and asked, “is something the matter?”

The instructor appeared to shrug her shoulders and said, “we were wondering if our vuelessa still governs your penis, lo Chak?”

Vaya held back her laughter.

Chak assured them, “I believe it is obvious that the vuelessa Loee holds welcome authority over my penis.”

I did not want Chak to take full blame for our amoriging. I told them, “last dim was because of my actions, instructor. I aroused lo Chak without his permission.”

Vaya could no longer restrain her laughter. “Ha ha ha ha ha!”

I realized I had made the situation more awkward. The instructor was holding her cup in front of her face to hide her laughing.

Pelad walked up to the table at this moment and asked, “what is making everyone so happy this brightness?”

I knelt on the deck in front of Pelad and looked up at him, “lo Pelad, I have caused a problem.”

Pelad stopped me and reached down to lift me to my feet. He said, “that is nonsense. You are certainly no puppy, but you are yet a flower. I saw you being carried off, tail first, over Chak’s shoulder. There is nothing that occurred that you will be blamed for.”

They all looked at Chak now. This was not a serious matter, I was now sure. Still, I said to Chak, “you may tell them what I said to you. It will show them that you were being thoughtful of me.”

They all stared at Chak. He shook his head, lifting his palms to them, and refused to answer in any way. Then they stared at me for explanation. I told them, “I went to express my appreciation for Chak’s kindness and effort in my training.” This, once again, did not help. They looked back at Chak wondering why he reacted to something like that.

Chak lifted his hands again to more emphatically motion that he was not going to say anything.

I had caused this and I was not going to let Chak take full responsibility. I told them, “I said to him that when I am amoriged, I want to be bessed, and then.”

I did not finish my sentence. They all laughed uproariously. Chak began to laugh, too. I could not hold back. I should not have said anything, so I laughed with them, at myself.

I said loa to Chak and the instructor and Vaya later that early brightness. They told me that, while new vuelessas are usually transported by floating transport to their assignments, I would not be.

I asked Vaya and the instructor, “is there a security concern?”

They both sent the thought: Yes.

The instructor told me, “you are not a fresh trainee. The usual vuelessa has only seen the inside of this Domesticate and visited Pleasance. You have experienced vuel already and you traveled here on your own from Centium. We believe it will be better for vuel that you travel as the usual vuelan would travel.”

I walked through Pleasance to take the cable wagon down the mountain. I noticed the vuelans on the lanes assessing me. I am a vuelessa now. Simply appearing before them serves them in a small way. I smiled and nodded to each of them. Some of them spoke to me and I greeted them by saying, “Sola is bright today!”

At the cable wagon the ticket vuela asked, “do you want a round trip ticket, vuelessa?”

I laughed to myself. I read that she wondered why I thought it was funny. I handed her the blues for one way and said, “you are kind for suggesting that, but I should have bought the round trip ticket on the way up.”

My travel had been planned by the Domesticate. I would take the shallow river boat Vuelessa to Puerto Plata. I would take the Vuela Yuko to Centium and then take the Brazasel to Geshlan port. In Geshlan village there are cargo wagons to other villages. One of these would be bound for Lukatsic village. In the main Lukatsic village of Lukatch I would seek out a Tesar ranger named Talvik.

There is no such thing as travel reservations on Vul. First come first served is the rule. I was given instructions and approximate deen for my travel. Arriving at my destination on her own is expected of an experienced vuelessa.

The wagon was almost full when I climbed in and sat down. A call was made and we began to roll down the mountain. There was a fresh breeze coming off the mountains this brightness. One of the vuelen pulled a tarp down from the cover of the wagon that protected us from the breeze. I waited for him to sit down with his espa and said, “you are kind, lo vuelo.”

He nodded to me and assessed me and said, “you are kind to notice, vuelessa. You are also one of the more beautiful vuelessas I have ever met.”

I looked at his espa. I read that she also thought I was beautiful. She was at minimum, pretty. I addressed her, “vuelasel, I can see that your espo is familiar with beauty.”

The vuelasel smiled at me now. The vuelo quickly added, “yes! I am!”

The espa nodded to me for my kindness and said, “you are also a skilled vuelessa.”

I smiled at her, returning her nod. Being a vuelessa carried social responsibility, I noted.

There was a young vuelo with his family in the wagon. He could not keep his eyes from me. After some time, he asked me, “vuelessa, what is your name?”

“My name is Loee, lo vuelo, and what is your name?” I looked into his eyes. He was barely able to converse while looking at me. I smiled in a friendly way to try to calm him. Young vuelen can be nervous when speaking to beautiful vuelas.

He said, “my name is Kempled, vuelessa. I mean, Loee, My name is Kempled, vuelessa Loee.”

I smiled, “be kind and call me Loee, lo Kempled.” He was amazed that I had invited him to call me Loee and that I addressed him as lo Kempled.

He wanted to ask me something. Momentarily, he asked, “vuelessa Loee, do you, uh, do vuelessas remove their vesses when they present themselves to someone they are going to serve?”

I could well imagine this young vuelo’s fantasy. I told him, “yes, lo Kempled, in certain situations, we do so in order to demonstrate that we are giving all of ourselves to that service.”

The vuelo had not considered what my answer would be. I read that he wanted to ask many questions but could not voice a particular question for me. I also read something else from him. I asked him, “you have an amora, lo Kempled, what is her name?”

The vuelo turned red. His eyes widened. His sister and mother became interested in his answer.

I read that he was proud of this vuela and wanted to tell me. He said, “Evuea,” he answered. In his answer I read that he and Evuea were serious about each other and wanted to be thought of as responsible young vuelans. They wanted to become espo and espa some future brightness and make their families proud. I also read that his mother was impressed with the vuela that her vuelo has for an amora and she knew the vuela’s mother. I made sure Kempled’s eyes were in mine and said, “you and Evuea are good for each other. The two of you will be good for vuel. Make sure that you tell her every brightness that you amor her, and she will become the most beautiful vuela in all of Vul.”

The vuelo was mesmerized by my pronouncement. I thought to myself: This is what being a vuelessa means. He regained his voice and was able to say, “you are kind, vuelessa.” he looked to his mother. He shrugged as if what I said was nothing.

I looked at his mother also, and nodded, reading that she was grateful for the information I had pulled from her vuelo.

The boat ride from lake Pleasance to Porto Plata took only until the early dim since we were going downriver. We stayed on the boat through the dim in our partitioned spaces and spent the brightness in Porto Plata roaming through the shops there until the Vuela Yuko arrived in the mid brightness. Once we boarded the Vuela I sent thought to Aeia: My Aeia, due to your assistance, I have been trained and given the instructor’s name. I am a vuelessa now and I am grateful for your kindness.

In moments, Aeia sent me this thought: Loee, you were always a vuelessa. Hold me in your thought. While I read her thought it seemed that she was telling me to stay in touch for s specific reason. I dismissed my query at the time.

The trip from Porto Plata to Centium was downriver also. We arrived before the next brightness. I disembarked and saw O’ea and Tuda on the pier. O’ea waved. Tuda jumped up and down and waved. Seeing O’ea and Tuda made me laugh. Tuda is better than two heads taller than O’ea.

O’ea called to me, “Loee! Aeia sent us to meet you.”

Tuda called, “Aeia wants us to take you for mid brightness comida!”

The three of us hugged on the pier. We were together on the constable’s platform in Refurio when Kregt came along. Tuda and I were new to Vul, the greenish coating was still caked on our skin. O’ea explained to Kregt that Tuda and I were from different faraway lands. Kregt amazed me when he spoke English to me. He paid the fees to the constables and took us to Casa Lago together. We have treated each other as family since then. Tuda met the four halee vuelas that had already been purchased and brought to Casa Lago by Aeia. O’ea was hired by Kregt to teach Tuda and me the language. She also has skills as an artist. Tuda is an amazing acrobat and performs with the Halee vuelas in shows in Centium.

I seemed to have no purpose in vuel. One brightness, the vuelas of Casa Lago, E’ella and V’aya, told me I should offer my self to Kregt to serve him, and by that they meant amorig with him. While I was more than willing to do this, having realized that he had probably saved me from a horrible bondage, Kregt instead asked Aeia to assess me as a vuelessa. Aeia’s assessment sent me on my current journey.

Tuda knew a good cafe across the river street and half a block up Via Real. He chose a table for us, “Here is a good place!” He said, motioning to a table on the walk.

O’ea asked me about Pleasance and the vuelessa training. She told me, “Aeia said you became a vuelessa quickly.”

“Yes, they needed to send me somewhere quickly, I think. Are you staying busy painting the banners?”

She replied, “I could paint banners not only in the brightness but also in the dim if there was enough light to do so. The colored oil business is increasing each six.”

“I am happy for you! Tuda, are you still dancing with your Halee vuelas?”

Tuda was eating salty breads and sipping vinho. He gave me a mischievous expression. I glanced at O’ea, she had a funny expression, also. He leaned forward as if he were telling a secret. “ Wehela, and Areah are embrazda.” When he said this he put his hand on his tummy. I did not know the word embrazda. I read from him that he had gotten the two halee vuelas pregnant!

“Embrazda?” I asked, “with vuelitos?”

Tuda wiggled his hands over his head. “Yes! Tuda’s vuelitos! Tuda’s vuelitos!”

Tuda was joyous and his joy was infectious. I clapped my hands at his joy. “When did, how long?” I couldn’t form a proper question on the subject.

O’ea said, in the absence of my coherent thought, “Aeia found out last six. They are going to have to stop performing soon.”

I asked, “so, she is sure of?” I couldn’t finish this question, either.

Tuda sat up in his chair and said, “Tuda can tell.” He put two fingers on his lips. I read that he was able to taste something and tell if a Halee vuela is embrazda.

I had to ask, “Tuda, you can taste that they are embrazda? What do you taste?” I noticed O’ea putting her hands on her face as I asked this.

Tuda didn’t say. He held his forearm horizontally, extended and wiggled two fingers.

I read from his thought that he was able to taste a difference in the vuela’s secretions. I stopped my read of his thought, not wanting to know what those secretions were.

He said, “Tuda can tell!”

I looked at O’ea. She nodded, “he can tell!”

Tuda leaned toward me to tell me, “you need to know, you come to Tuda.”

“You are kind, Tuda, I will.” We discussed many things until the bell sounded for boarding the Brazasel. I said loa to Tuda and O’ea and told them I would think of them often.

O’ea called as we parted, “loa Loee, Aeia said to tell you to not get off the boat when it stops in Refurio.”

“Be kind to assure her that I will not.” I waved and walked away. All three of us had been in Refurio before and it was not a good memory. Aeia must know of another danger that is occurring in Refurio.

The Brazasel was the same kind of riverboat as the Vuela Yuko, with three decks. It also had antrib. This meant it was propelled by a motor. I again wondered why, if a motor could be built to antrib a riverboat, why were there no motors on land vehicles? I stood on the top deck of the Brazasel and watched Centium disappear. Once again, the rolling farm land went on to the horizons. I watched as flocks of birds came and went. I wondered if this planet had seasons like those on Earth. I supposed it must. A herd of animals that were probably goats grazed in a pasture. Then a herd of cattle grazed in another. A loading dock was on the river. A tall fence surrounded it all the way to the gate at the end of the ramp running to the rivers edge. There were no animals in the loading pen at this time. A lone vuela was sweeping the large wooden planked floor of the ramp. No one else was near. There was a coup next to the fence of the pen. I wondered if the vuela lived there in that coup?

I read that a vuelo near me was trying to think of something to say to me. He wondered if I was interested in the herds on the pastures we going by. I thought: Do I look like a herder to him? I turned to him as he began to speak to me, “those pastures are are well cared for, vuelasel, are they,”

The vuelo stopped in mid sentence when I turned. He saw the crystals of my necklace and, realizing that I was not a herder, said to me, “I ask your kindness, vuelessa.”

He was trying to be sociable. “The fields are well cared for, lo?”

He introduced himself, “I am lo Karting, vuelessa. You appeared to be surveying your own herds.”

“You are kind to notice me, lo Karting, I saw the loading dock and the vuela sweeping there. The vuela does not live in that coup within the fence, does she?”

The vuelo looked out at the loading pen, now in the distance. He told me, “I believe she does live within the fence. It is for her protection. Predators stalk the pens, but she is safe inside the fence.”

“Does someone come to get her at the end of the brightness?”

He explained, “I believe the vuela lives in the coup in the pen. That way, she is available to sweep the ramp anytime livestock is brought for loading.”

“The vuela lives there? She never leaves? How does she get something to eat?”

The vuelo told me, “each herder that uses the ramp brings food and fresh water for the vuela. That is required of any herder using the ramp.”

“Lo Karting, the vuela, does she choose to live there and do this work?”

Lo Karting said, “no. Almost never. The vuela is surely a bond vuela.”

This seemed to be a well understood custom. “If you would be kind to describe for me, lo Karting, how does a vuela become bond? Is she being punished?”

The vuelo realized that I did not understand the entire concept. He explained, “in this case, vuelessa, a village probably sent one or two vuelas to a herder in compensation. The herder then uses the vuela for an annaro or two, until the account is balanced.”

I was supposed to be an experienced vuelessa, yet there were many things in vuel that I was ignorant of. I read from lo Karting that giving a vuela in trade was common in vuel. I motioned to the livestock ramp and said, “providing a vuela for that service squanders the talent of the vuela, lo Karting.”

He looked at me thoughtfully, “you are probably correct, vuelessa.”

I lowered my head to him and introduced myself, “I am vuelessa Loee, Lo Karting. You have been kind to inform me. May I ask how you are aware to the working arrangements of the loading ramps?”

His expression was apologetic as he said, “as a vuelito, I helped herd livestock through that exact loading ramp, vuelessa Loee. I am afraid I never thought about the vuela that swept the boards.”

I refrained from asking more on the subject. I was sure to learn more about the practice of using vuelas as compensation. I did want to learn more about the grown up lo Karting. “I ask your kindness, lo Karting, you came up to me this brightness, is there a service I can perform for you?” I read that he thought I was beautiful and wanted to amorig with me. I thought to myself: Being able to read the mind is a wonderful thing. Amorig is part of vuel for vuelan adults. Couples amorig more willingly than is common on Earth. This was something I had become accustomed to.

Lo Karting relaxed outwardly. “Yes, vuelessa Loee, will you enjoy a chalice of vinho with me as the fields of Vul go by?”

Lo Karting and I sat at a table on the top deck of the Brazasel. We enjoyed a cool breeze, chalices of vinho and salted breads. He was a herder. His family owns several herds of cattle, goats and prongs. I wasn’t sure what a prong was. His family had the largest herd of whatever prongs are. These things were easy for him to talk about. A vuelessa always asks another vuelan to talk about themselves and this was easy with lo Karting. I learned that he lived near Centium on the family estate. He discussed raising cattle, which are the primary meat source in vuel. What changed the conversation was my asking him about vuelas he had been with. I asked him the question this way: “Kart, may I call you Kart.” I had read that his friends and family called him this, and he consented. I said, “a vuelessa can tell when a vuelo wants to amorig with her and I also want to amorig with you.” I touched him on his arm as I said, “I would like to know what kind of vuela you have been seeking. I can think of many vuelas that would be thrilled to be your espa forever. Why have you not chosen one?”

Karting was surprised to hear this question. He said, “no one has ever asked me that before, may I call you Loee?”

“You would be kind to call me Loee.”

He continued warily, “I have heard that some vuelessas have the ability to read other’s thought. You are obviously one of those that is good at reading thought. I have been perplexed about this for annaros. What do you read in my mind about the sort of vuela that would complete vuel for me?”

I laughed lightly, “my Kart, I cannot read what does not exist!”

He sat back in his chair, and asked, “could it be that I don’t know what I am looking for?”

I gained some insight into Kart’s thinking. “My Kart, can you tell me something about a particular vuela that you were interested in?”

He considered this for a moment. He thought of a brown haired vuela that was fun to be with. Her name was Woeh. Then the description stopped and I read no more about Woeh. I asked him, “where did Woeh grow up?”

All he could tell me was, “in the area around Centium, I believe.”

I began to understand what the problem was. “My Kart, tell me something about Woeh, besides the fact that she has large breasts.”

Karting strained to remember something besides her breasts. He finally was excited to report, “she liked kanela cookies!”

Kanela makes baked things taste similar to how Earth cinnamon makes something taste. The vuelan word sounds like the Spanish word for cinnamon. This was truly all the vuelo could tell me about a vuela that he had a relationship with.

“My Kart, it is no wonder that you do not have a relationship with a vuela. You only tell them about yourself. You don’t ask them about themselves! The vuelas you have been with thought you cared nothing for them!”

Karting was surprised that I had said this, and yet, he was unable to disagree. After a pause he said, “Loee, you may be right. I don’t seem to know anything about them.”

I wanted to emphasize my point. I asked, “my Kart, we have been talking for about a period. What do you know about me?” I knew what his answer would be.

He smiled and said, “you are beautiful, and you are intelligent and you are insightful!”

I did not read the word, intelligent, I will give him that, but that wasn’t all. I asked, “and?”

He said, “and you must be a dream to amorig with? Is that what you have read from my mind, because I cannot help thinking that it would be amazing to amorig with you.”

I stood up and took his hand, saying, “come with me, my Kart. I am going to amaze you.” I took the vuelo to my cabin.

Inside, I latched the door. I said, “my Kart,” holding the catch of my ves for him to undo. My ves fell to the floor. I did not step out of it. There is not enough room in a riverboat cabin to step out of anything. There was only enough room for the two of us to stand next to the bed, which, if two vuelans slept in it at the same time, would be close fitting. I knelt on the bed in front of him. He was not moving. I asked, “my Kart?”

He came out of his trance from seeing my body and began to fumble with his belt. I grabbed his hands, telling him, “allow me, my Kart.” I began to unfasten his pantos, using more patience. This hastened his erection, which I expected. He was unfastening his shirt and was about to pounce on me.

I held my hand to his chest. I said, “my Kart, kindly kneel before me.”

He did so but could not keep his hands from touching me. He was skilled at this and I became more aroused, especially when he paused his fingers on each side of my labia. My own erection felt his subtle movement. We bessed. I read that he wanted to position me for penetration. This was where it began to go wrong. He took hold of my hips and lifted me to turn me around. He wanted to penetrate me like an animal! I grabbed his wrists and turned. I firmly said, “NO!” I shook my head also.

His expression was a question. I read from him that I was denying him my penetration. I asked, “my Kart, is this how you have amoriged with all the vuelas?”

I read his answer before it came out of his mouth. He asked, “is there something wrong?” Karting was a herder. He had watched the breeding of hundreds of animals and thought amorig with a vuela turned away from him on her knees was normal for vuelas.

I said, softly, “my amoro, a vuela prefers to see her vuelo during amorig. Have you never amoriged face to face?” He did not want to answer this and I understood that he had never amoriged face to face with a vuela. I said to him, “I will show you.” I laid on my back on front of him.

He looked down at where he wanted to penetrate me. He looked up at me again. He was unsure of how to do this. He said, “this seems so, how do I?”

“My Kart, I will assist with your penis.” I instructed, “come as close as you are able.” With my aid, I felt the full length of his penis slide into me. Now I was ready to give lo Karting some more valuable instruction. I grasped his penis within me. Gradually releasing my hold as he pulled out and increasing again as he pushed. This caused his ejaculation in only a few moments. I heard him gasp at his inability to maintain his erection in me.

When he lifted up, embarrassed that he had ejaculated so quickly, I grabbed his neck and looked into his eyes and said to him, “my Kart, the way you feel right now is how a vuela feels when you care to know nothing about her.”

He was perplexed. He finally said, “you did that to me to make me understand some principle?”

I pulled his face to mine and bessed him. I whispered, “be kind to understand, my vuelo.”

Karting sat back on the bed, deep in thought. I had changed his world. His world needed to be changed. He put his clothes on and turned to leave. He turned back to me. I knew what his question was. I assured him, “my Kart, I am a vuelessa. What happened on this bed is between you and me and no one else.”

In part of a period, I read that Karting was returning to my cabin. I heard a knock on my door. He called his name to me. I called to him to come in.

Kart opened the door but did not come into my cabin. He said, “my vuelessa Loee. I would appreciate your company for the Brazasel comida this dim.”

“That is kind of you, lo Karting, I will be glad to join you.”

He said in a mannerly way, “I will come for you when the bell sounds the first time.”

I smiled, “I will be waiting, my Kart.” This was an interesting development in lo Karting.

The first dim bell sounded and Kart’s knock came quickly. He called through the door, “my vuelessa.”

“One moment,” I stepped into the passageway to take lo Karting’s arm. In the main dining room of the Brazasel many eyes turned to us when we entered. Kart had already arranged for a seat at a table of six. Three vuelos at the table stood when we arrived. Kart introduced me to the table, “this is the vuelessa Loee.” He said and each vuelan introduced themselves to me.

Before I took my chair I said, “it is my privilege to be dining with all of you.”

Karting began the conversation by asking me, “we spoke for a period earlier and I never asked, how long have you have been serving as vuelessa?”

This began a string of questions from everyone at the table. I was asked if I was brought from the faraway lands. The vuelasel at the table said she thought she recognized where in the faraway lands my voice came from. I was in disbelief that she would say this.

She asked, “you are from what is called, the west, is that correct?”

I was astounded. “Yes, vuelasel. I am from that region.” The western part of North America seemed so far away now and vuel was so different. Maybe that was why I felt a responsibility for Karting’s development. I had been with boys on Earth that were easily as coarse as he was.

The discussion of me continued long past it’s value and I held up my palms to the table, saying, “you are all too kind to discuss me. My escort, lo Karting is more interesting, being part of a herding family dynasty.”

One of the Vuelen spoke up, “we know far too much about Karting, vuelessa. Tell us where you are being sent.” The vuelans at the table all laughed, I glanced to see that Kart took the joke well. The vuelo that made the comment was a friend of his.

“You are kind to ask, lo vuelo, I am being sent to the Lukatsic villages. I will meet someone in Lukatch village.”

The vuelo that had spoken up raised his eyebrows and he was not the only one to do so. He said to me, “it will be wise of you to use extreme care in that area, vuelessa.”

Another vuelo added, “yes, few will venture beyond Lukatch.”

The vuelen traded glances with each other. “You are kind to warn me, lo vuelo. I have also been assured that the situation there is becoming more tranquil.”

The vuelo, lo Grent, who had commented about Kart, said, “that is excellent news. Can you tell us, vuelessa, what your purpose, or challenge will be?”

I read that lo Grent’s question was sincere. “Lo Grent, the only purpose of a vuelessa is to improve vuel.” I smiled seductively at him and added, “as you well know.”

Early the next brightness I awoke feeling no movement. We had arrived and docked at Refurio. I was not disembarking so I was in no hurry to leave my cabin. I had only put my ves on when a there was a knock on my door. I heard, “Loee, it is Kart.”

I called, “come in, my Kart.”

Kart opened the door and held a small box in his hands. I read gratitude from him. He opened the box and said to me, “my vuelessa, you must accept this token.”

I read from him that this was a usual occurrence, yet, I had not heard of accepting a token as a vuelessa. “Lo Kart, I did nothing for you for which I would deserve a token.” I looked at the token. I couldn’t imagine what it was.

Kart asked, “may we sit down?”.

I motioned for him to sit down on the foot of my bed with me. I said, “my Kart, this is kindness that I do not deserve.” I meant this. I had not been gentle with him.

He said, “Loee, I have been with vuelessas that did not care enough to tell me what I was doing wrong, or, could be doing in a better way. I am from a wealthy family, so the vuelas I have been with said nothing, they simply did not continue in a relationship with me. You already wear the vuelessa’s necklace. This pouch comes with a cord that encircles your waste. Inside the pouch are seven clear crystals. I am wealthy. Vuel is influenced by deen. Deen in your possession will truly improve vuel. Take this pouch as a token from the Karting family.” Kart laughed, telling me, “you deserve it because my family was beginning to wonder what was wrong with me! I only ask that you tell no one how, um, backward I was.”

I laughed at his joke. “My Kart, asking a vuela about herself is more important than which way you.” I didn’t finish the sentence because his lips stopped me.

He released his bess and said, “I would ask you to be my espa, but I do not believe that you belong in a family of herders.”

“Is that because I did not want to be bred like a goat?”

Kart made fun of himself with his comment, “not completely because of that, but wanting to amorig face to face is certainly part of it!”

I closed my eyes and read of a vuela that Kart had wanted to be with. He still thought of the vuela, Eisha. I asked him, “where is Eisha this brightness?”

Kart sat back, not surprised that I said the name. He thought a moment. “I believe I know, and I believe I am going to find her!”

The Brazasel took another brightness and over a dim and into the next brightness to navigate the turn from the Yuko river into the Braza river and antrib up river to Geshlan. The terrain down river from Refurio became swampy and then more swampy with tributaries flowing into the Yuko every horizon. The boo trees here looked large in circumference and reached a hundred lengths into the sky. I stood on the top deck to see Geshlan as we came in to dock. I could read the name of one of the houses, the Braza House, on the front of the building. While Refurio was a small city with many buildings and a large population by the standards of Vul. Geshlan was better described as a large village. There appeared to be one main lane with buildings on both sides. It looked like there were two houses of diversion. Beyond that lane and dropping toward the river was a market area that had some makeshift structures. These structures weren’t buildings, but were sturdy tents. The port area where we docked was the most substantial part of Geshlan village. Several warehouses were on the other side of a large wharf area. The warehouses had large doors opening to the wharves. There was a wide road beyond the warehouses on which there were wagons pulled by dog teams and zebry. Geshlan was where the swampy terrain became higher. The roads leading away from here went up a slow rise away from the river Braza. On the main deck some vuelans began to disembark so I left my lookout perch to find my way through Geshlan. I carried my small bag with my other ves and my handful of personal items off the Brazasel. There were porters that were picking up luggage and boxes for most of the passengers. I wore the waist cord with the pouch of crystals that lo Karting gave me. The waist cord holds the pouch under the waist fold of a ves. This makes it almost invisible.

A porter on the dock asked me, “may I bring your luggage for you, la vuela?”

I turned to him and nodded my head, saying, “you are kind, lo vuelo, I have all my things.”

He looked at my necklace and said to me with some surprise, “we do not see many vuelessas. Will you be staying here in Geshlan, or are you going on to another village?”

“Yes, lo vuelo, I must go on to the Lukatsic village called Lukatch. Can you tell me where I may find wagon transport?”

He said, “yes, vuelessa, take the lane between the warehouses to the Rio Carretera. Wagons are gathered there for the transport of goods. You can join with them.”

“You are kind,” and walked toward the lane he had pointed out. The Rio carretera was wide here by the warehouses to facilitate wagons backed up to the loading docks which were built to the standard height of the wagons. There did not appear to be any place that more wagons were being loaded and there was no place that vuelans were gathering to board a wagon. I wondered if I was in the right place.

I walked over to a vuelo who was standing with a wagon. I tried to read his thought to determine if he owned the wagon. I stepped close to the wagon and asked, “lo vuelo, I wish to purchase transport to Lukatch village, are you going there?”

He turned to me, looked around quickly and asked, “who is with you? You are not here alone!”

The vuelo had taken in my appearance and necklace and was unimpressed. I smiled and said, “I am alone. I wish to buy transport to Lukatch village. Do you know someone that will be taking a wagon there?”

The vuelo assessed me carefully. He was definitely aroused by me. He was also suspicious and produced a weapon. I stepped back slowly. I read that he was not afraid of me, but whoever was with me. There had been an incident that he was involved in annaros before. I softly said, “lo vuelo, I ask your kindness. I did not intend to upset you.”

He looked back at me, satisfied that I was alone. He said, in what was almost a civil tone, “I am not going to Lukatch this brightness and I do not know anyone that is at this period. You can try next brightness. There will be a wagon or two going that way early in the brightness.”

I lowered my head and, having read his name, said to him, “you are kind, lo Pulton.” I turned to walk away and as I did I read confusion for how I knew the vuelo’s name. I read that he watched closely and appreciated the movement of my hips. I thought: Perhaps he will feel more trusting toward me in the next brightness.

The Rio Carretera was also the main street in Geshlan village. A short walk brought me to the Braza House. This was the house with the sign I could see from the river boat. Inside, I met a receiving vuela who, when she saw my necklace her face changed. She said, “in your kindness, vuelessa, do not ask to serve here.”

I was startled at this, “I ask your kindness, la vuela, I had no intention of such.” The vuela was relieved, but, now wondered what I wanted of her. “I only seek a room for the dim.”

She smiled, and then was distressed in saying, “we only have a large room available for this dim. It will cost ten blue.”

That didn’t sound too expensive if the room was large and well furnished. I asked, “what does that price include?”

I expected to hear water and vinho, as I had experienced with lo Kregt long ago in Refurio. “The price includes water, washing water, vinho.” The vuela paused.

I read what she wasn’t saying, “and a serving vuela?”

“Yes, vuelessa.” The serving vuela was meant to do more than clean the room.

“The vuela you send to me will have an easy dim.” I gave her the ten blue. A vuela accompanied me up the ramp to the second level room to show me the sand area and demonstrate the drape that would separate the room into two sleeping areas. The room at the Braza House was well furnished with a table and chairs. A window looked out toward the river and the shore beyond.

The serving vuela put the water and vinho and cups on the table and asked me, “will someone be meeting you or are you traveling alone, vuelessa?”

“Yes, Uthe, is that how you say your name?” I asked the vuela this purposely to show interest in her. She appreciated my question and her expression brightened.

“Yes vuelessa, it is Uthe. The maiden calls me Utheee but it is Uthe.” This mattered to the vuela.

“Be kind to call me Loee, Uthe. I am glad to hear my name pronounced correctly or incorrectly.” I wanted her to be less upset at how someone that does not care might pronounce her name. “I am traveling alone. Do you see other vuelessas traveling through Geshlan?”

The vuela was uneasy, “you are kind to offer your name, vuelessa Loee. We had a vuelessa here some sixes ago. Her name was Ua. Do you know her?”

“The vuelessa Ua was here? Here in the Braza house?”

She said, “yes, she worked as a serving vuela for only part of a six. The serving vuelas here became much more popular with the vuelos after vuelessa Ua was here. Do you know vuelessa Ua?”

“I have heard her name.” I did not want to give out more information. I would have to send these thoughts to Aeia at my next opportunity.

I went to the window, “Uthe, did I see a tarp market over there?” I pointed downriver.

“Yes, there is a bazaar that usually has many items to offer.”

“Since you are my serving vuela, can you accompany me to the bazaar?”

Shopping in the bazaar was a pleasant diversion. I had not shopped for anything since I arrived on Vul. The simple freedom of browsing through the open tents made me feel joyous. One tienda had a draped area in the back. This was not completely unusual but in this case, I read an evil purpose. The vuelasel smiled at me and offered me the smell of a scented candle. I declined her invitation and when she saw that the vuela Uthe was with me, she backed away. Proceeding to the next tent, a strange sensation came to my mind. I could not make sense of it and dismissed the thought stream.

An open tarp with a large number of vesses held my attention for some time. I noticed Uthe thumbing through the vesses longingly. I did not need any thought reading ability to tell that she only had one good ves, the one she wore. I found a ves that I wanted and looked around myself to see if there was a draped area to try on a ves. At that moment another vuela stepped out of her ves to try on another. Vuel is different, I reminded myself as I stepped out of my own ves right out in the open to try on the ves I was interested in.

I heard a voice say, “you are a beautiful vuela” I turned, the ves shop owner was watching me.

“You are kind,” I smoothed the ves down on myself.

The shop owner said, “that ves has become beautiful because you have put it on.”

The ves shop owner was saying these things sincerely, making me feel uneasy. I had become more aware that I looked different from the usual vuela. The further away from Centium and Pleasance I went, the differences grew. The vuelas in Geshlan were not ugly but were plain looking. My appearance did stand apart. I said to the shop vuela, “you are too kind.”

I could not help but notice that Uthe admired the ves also and this gave me an idea. I said, “Uthe, this ves might look good on you. Try one on.” She looked afraid to do so. I encouraged her, “I insist!”

She did try one of the vesses on and the stretchy material helped the ves to fit her perfectly. It was obvious that she wanted the ves. Without asking, or offering an explanation, I simply bought both of the vesses and continued shopping. Uthe, an obedient serving vuela, said nothing about the ves. I read from her thought what I was beginning to suspect: She was a bond vuela belonging to the Braza House. The simple beige colored ves she wore was a serving vuela ves put on her by the house. She owned nothing. She had been delivered to the house wearing only the cord binding her at her wrists and ankles.

We continued shopping through more tents and while walking back I asked her, “how long have you worked a the Braza House, Uthe?” Knowing that this would give me the information I sought without asking her about being a bond vuela.

She answered precisely, “five rotations, three sixes, one brightness.” Her thought was also precise: I have one annaro, four rotations, three sixes and five brightnesses more as bond vuela. She repeated this in her mind: I have one annaro, four rotations, three sixes and five brightnesses more as bond vuela. I heard it a third time before she stopped.

Back in my room, Uthe poured me some vinho and I relaxed before the dim comida. Uthe took my ves that I had been wearing to travel in and washed it for me. I put on my other ves, sat at the table and stared out my window at the Braza river. Vuel seemed tranquil here. It was serene, until the ugly side of vuel appeared. Am I here to correct these things? I have no authority. I do have influence, if influence is worth anything in vuel.

The dining room in the Braza House is large, with a platform at one end where musicians were playing when I sat down at my table. The vuela that seated me asked if I would be dining alone this dim. I asked her, “is the proprietor of the Braza House dining this evening?”

She thought the vuelo’s name, Gatten. I quickly added, “it would be pleasant to dine with Gatten if he is available. Would you be kind and ask him to join me?”

She looked surprised and asked, “you know lo Gatten?”

“Why do you ask?”

She said, “I will tell him, vuelessa.” She went on her way.

Momentarily, a voice came from behind me. It was the Braza House proprietor, Gatten. He said, “I have learned not to ignore any vuelessa that comes to the Braza House.” He stopped beside me and said, “your beauty is captivating, vuelessa.”

I lowered my face quickly, then looked up, saying, “in your kindness, call me Loee.”

Gatten took a chair at the table. He said, “Loee is a beautiful name! Your invitation is the nicest thing to happen to me this brightness, possibly this six. I will be happy to dine with you, vuelessa. I trust that you found your room up to your standards?”

“Yes, lo Gatten, I am in one of your large rooms. It is pleasant and comfortable.” Gatten was satisfied to hear that I was staying in a room that was profitable for the House. A serving vuela came and poured us some vinho. I told him, “I have paid for full service this dim, lo Gatten, though I will not be needing the use of a serving vuela!” I wanted him to know that I had not invited him simply to have my comida paid for.

Gatten said, “I am glad to know that, vuelessa, though I will tell you that a couple of our serving vuelas are used often by the vuelasels. Their massage techniques are, may I say, popular with the vuelasels.”

We discussed various topics during the comida. Ua’s name came up. I said that I only knew of her. I read from him that he kept a room here at the Braza for his use. His espa operated their livestock business that was half of a horizon from Geshlan. She was not in the Braza this dim. He was attracted to me and was going to ask me to visit his room as soon as I had some more vinho.

I waited for the musicians to begin playing after a break in their performance and asked Gatten, “Do you keep a room in the house for your use, lo Gatten?”

That was all the encouragement he needed. “I have the finest room in the House, if you will be kind to keep that a secret. May I show it to you, Loee?”

Gatten’s suite in the back of the Braza House was the most sumptuous private area I had seen yet on Vul. I had been in lo Kregt’s rooms in Casa Lago and they were well furnished, but Gatten had fine taste, or his espa did. Paintings were on the walls. The bed was large and luxurious. I had preceded him down the hallway to his suite and reading his intention to amorig with me was clear.

Once he closed the door, I turned and knelt in front of him. He stopped and watched as I unhooked my ves and placed my foot in front of myself to rise. I took my time and stroked my hands up my thighs and moved my fingers together over my tummy before sweeping my hands under my breasts. I stopped to let him enjoy the sensation I was presenting before I said, “I will serve you.”

Nothing more was said as he led me to his bed and we embraced each other, bessing. My breasts received all of his attentions for some time. His skillful touch induced my lubrication before he nudged my knee to open me for his penetration. Gatten was highly skilled compared to the vuelos that had used me up to now. He pushed his penis into my moist vagina as I gave slight pressure to slow his penetration. His pubis met mine as the length of his penis filled me. His movement began a rhythm in me while I alternated pressure and release. I wondered: What it would have felt like to amorig with lo Kregt? I had been told that I should amorig with Kregt, but I did not get the opportunity. I imagined that Kregt was as skilled as Gatten was. Gatten began to moan with pleasure. I read that he wondered if his espa could be taught what I was doing.

I felt him put a loe stem and a small cloth in my hand when we finished. Gatten was not only skillful but experienced. He laid on the bed next to me wondering what I wanted from him. He knew that I had already paid for my room and meal at the highly profitable rate. He didn’t think that was what I wanted.

Soon, he said, “vuelessa Loee, I will give you anything you want. In your kindness, please do not ask for the deed to the Braza. My espa owns the other half and you and she would not be good partners.”

I rolled over and said, “Yes, my Gatten, I do want something. Not for me, but for vuel.”

The wagon to Lukatch left a half period after first brightness. I had gone back to the place where I had become acquainted with lo Pulton, who, when he saw me he called out to me, “come vuela! I have place in my wagon for you this brightness!”

I only paid one blue for the seat in the wagon. My seat was on top of a spool of material bound for Lukatch. I was happy to have this seat. There were wagons leaving at the same time that carried things that smelled bad. Lo Pulton had a four zebry team to pull our wagon. I was riding on a large wagon with good animals pulling it. I was fortunate. The usual transport between villages is by foot.

Lo Pulton was an amiable vuelo if you knew him and he knew you. Since I showed up looking to pay for a ride as I had requested the brightness before, he trusted me. I had left the Braza House at first light. Lo Gatten consented to my request after our amorig to free the serving vuela Uthe. She would continue to work at the Braza as a serving vuela. She would now be paid and get a sixth brightness off, as is usual for serving vuelas. When I left my room I left the ves I had bought when Uthe accompanied me with a note for her that said, felicitanes. This ves is to wear on your new job.

Lo Gatten said he would tell the vuela that the vuelessa she served requested that he do this. He said that consenting to a request from a vuelessa is accepted as a good reason for any action.

The terrain lifted away from Geshlan and the river basin up to rolling hills with small wooded areas. Farms in this area had groups of two or three houses that were about a horizon apart. We reached a second horizon and the land became more arid. Trees were smaller. Boo trees only grew near ponds and creek beds. Many of the creek beds were dry. This terrain continued for another horizon before we saw a few houses at the edge of a wooded area before the land rose again on the far horizon.

Lo Pulton turned to me and called over the noise of the wagon wheels, “that ridge is the beginning of the Lukat. Lukatch is in the valley ahead of us.”

I knelt on the spools behind lo Pulton, holding onto the back of the bench, looking ahead toward the place that I was supposed to make a difference. Me. A vuelessa. Why did I have the feeling that surviving in this area would, in itself, be difficult enough? We rolled on. The village began to form along the road. The road became a lane between buildings. Ahead, there appeared to be something like a village square in the road. Pulton pulled his wagon to a halt at a corner near the square.

Pulton pointed across the square to the far corner. He told me, “la vuela, that is the Lukatch hall. The council of the villages meets there. That is where you will find a Tesar if one is available.”

I saw the place he was pointing to and it looked official enough. I said, “you are kind lo Pulton.” I looked over the wagon side to find a way to get out the back of the wagon.

Pulton said, “give me your hands,” I put my bag over my wrist and gave him my hands. He picked me up effortlessly, swung me out of the wagon and set me on the ground. Lifting me as he did raised my ves while I was swinging out of the wagon. I smoothed my ves down once I was on the ground and looked around myself to see that only a couple of vuelos had received an unobstructed view of my rear end. I told myself: I am a vuelessa. Pulton asked me, “are you alright, vuela?” He held the brake on his wagon.

I called up to him while backing away from the wagon, “yes, lo Pulton, you are kind. I will seek you in a future brightness.” He called to his zebry and rolled away toward a warehouse area of Lukatch village. I walked across the lane to the square and continued toward the large building on the far side of the square. I was attracting the attention of the vuelen on the lane and nodded to them, acknowledging their stares. Outside of the council building was a platform and a set of benches. I wondered if justice proceedings were held here on the square, in public, for the vuelans of Lukatch.

“Vuelessa!” A vuelo’s voice took my attention. The tall vuelo walking toward me from the building had called out to me. He said, “I saw you get out of that wagon. We don’t have many vuelessas come to Lukatch by wagon. You must have been sent by the domesticate in Pleasance.”

I lowered my head to him, “yes. I am Loee. I am to meet the Tesar ranger named Talvik.” I had read his name and already had gone to my knees in front of him. His appearance was impressive and he carried a large weapon.

“I am Talvik, vuelessa.” I read that he was watching closely as I unhooked the catch on my shoulder. I wanted to make a good first impression as I lifted slowly. Talvik’s thought filled my head. My hands swept up my body. My eyes met his. Talvik’s thought stream was now so loud that I could barely hear myself say the words, “I will serve you.”

Our eyes locked as his thought echoed in my head: I knew a vuelessa once and had to send her away. By the almighty Sola, I will hold on to you forever.

Renzt and Era .1

New weapons alter vuel

This story is told by Renzt

Era nudged me awake. She whispered, “Sola is coming in the window my vuelo.” This was a friendly way of telling me to wake up. Era and I had become well acquainted during last dim. When her story ended and her eyes found mine she read the extreme desire that she had created in my mind. She was on top of me before I could get up from my chair. We must have made it to the bed somehow. I remember plunging into her almost as fast as she wanted me to. It must have been a period before she released my penis. I had no idea I could last that long. I continue to wonder how she did that. We had awakened sometime during the dim to amorig with each other again.

I pushed myself up on an elbow, gazed at the naked beauty next to me in the bed, and moaned, “uh huh.” I looked around the room. Our bed was draped to separate us in the room. I supposed that Ooya had pulled the drape for us. I wondered if Gidat and Ooya had amoriged with each other. I wondered where Gidat was. I did not hear anyone else in the room.

Era said, “they have all gone to eat desayun.”

I yawned, “I could use some desayun, myself.” I put my feet on the floor. “We need to get the wagon loaded and roll out of here. We must reach the Cadizan camp by the dim.”

The vuelas rode in the bed of the wagon while we loaded plantans and letugas to haul to the Cadizan plains. Red plantans are a sweet banana like fruit that is is a favorite with the Cadizans.

The wagon was already hauling a load. The compartments in the floor had been filled with heavy rock ammunition. These pebbles came from the Kane creek that flowed through Larex. The pebbles are processed to find three sizes. The three sizes are the standard sizes for darts that can be used in the spin weapons. Spin weapons do not have the force or velocity of a gun on Earth. The projectile is wound through the weapon and achieves momentum that is lethal only at close range. I have noticed that the fear of the weapons in vuel exceeds the real danger.

I said to Gidat, “the ride is smoother with the full load.”

He looked back at the vuelas and said, “lo Rentz says you three are weighing his wagon down.”

I didn’t look back, but asked Era, “Era, you know I did not think that, don’t you?”

She was sly in her reply, “thought is not always precise, lo vuelo. You surely do not think we are fat, do you?”

Now I looked back at the three of them. I assessed them for a moment, which, they seemed to appreciate. I may have noticed Era’s shoulder lift a bit. I said, “all three of you have so little meat on your bones that a wildwolf would probably seek other game.” I wasn’t exaggerating. The vuelas had not been fed well.

I was wondering if Gidat was going to tell me that we were going to drop off the ammunition at the cliff where Pagalund’s shop is. I didn’t want to think about unloading a bunch of plantans to get to the shelves in the floor. I asked, “we are not stopping off before the camp are we?”

Gidat understood what I was asking. He said, “no, we’re not stopping.”

I understood. The ammunition would be picked up from the camp after the wagon was unloaded. I thought: Are you reading this, Era? I will explain what is going on later. I was aware now that Era was able to read thought and I was sure she was reading what was going on.

We did stop after a couple of periods. The zebry were tiring earlier due to the heavier weight being pulled. Part of the weight that is always on board is feed and water for the zebry. On the typical wagon, feed and water is stored in the side panels up front. We stopped at a small grove of trees that I knew of along the route. Gidat helped me set up the water trough and feed for the zebry. When we turned around to go back to the wagon to get our food the three vuelas had knelt in a line for us, holding up their wrists in front of themselves. They completed the picture by opening their mouths and showing their tongues like dogs. Gidat and I took it in for as long as we could before we started laughing.

Ooya called to us, “we are your under fed game animals.”

Era added, “we are begging for food, lo vuelos. We don’t want to be rejected by the wildwolves”

Laughing, I went to Era and Auvee, giving them my hands to help them up. I motioned to the horizon.“There are no wildwolves anywhere in sight. You have already been rejected! They are seeking other game. We have a kanela cake that you three can split. You will be fed well when we reach the camp. The Cadizans will be piteous of how lean you are! In your kindness do not tell the Cadizans that I purchased you! They will think I am a poor judge of vuelas!”

Era spoke for Auvee, Ooya, and herself, “what do we tell them, lo vuelo? That you found us walking along the road and you picked us up?”

I looked at Gidat, who was enjoying this exchange. I shrugged at him and said, “yes! Tell them that we found you. That will remove the entire cursed slavuela problem from any explanation that is sought.” Era was unsure of this plan. I said, “it is true, isn’t it? I did find you!”

Era thought for a moment and traded thought with Ooya. Momentarily, she said, “yes. Lo Renzt, that explanation will be easier to explain. We will simply refrain from describing our time being slavuelas.” She nodded to Ooya and Auvee, who both nodded back to her in agreement.

Our wagon was met by Bulkot when we came over the horizon in sight of the Cadizan village. I waved as he rode up on a zebry. He called out, “I became concerned as it is late in the brightness.” Bulkot surveyed the vuelas and told us, “you have a pretty cargo in your wagon!”

I called back to him, “I am looking for a home for these strays!” Glancing back at the vuelas, Era wrinkled her forehead to show her displeasure at me.

Gidat defended what I had said, telling the vuelas, “Cadizan villages put a high value on vuelas. If you seek a village, you may have found one.”

We rolled into the village in time for the dim comida. Bulkot met Gidat and I while some vuelen and vuelas came to us to unloaded the letugas and plantans from the wagon.

Era and Ooya jumped from the wagon and immediately knelt in front of all the vuelans that had come up to us. They were in unison with their faces to the ground. They lifted up and announced “We will serve you.” The vuelans that watched this were unfamiliar with vuelessas and were unsure of what the intent of the vuelas was. Era and Ooya simply began to unload the wagon. The other vuelans began to help and everything proceeded smoothly.

When they finished with the regular load, Bulkot and I opened the shelves to unload the ammunition. Bulkot gave orders on which box of darts to take where. Most of the ammunition was going on to Pagalund’s manufacturing facility in the cave. I was paid for the cargo of ammunition and produce items. Then, boxes were put into the shelves and covered by the floor panels. These logistics were well organized. My only responsibility was to transport.

Era and Ooya and Auvee followed the other vuelas and helped finish the dim comida preparation. Bulkot was curious. He asked,“the vuelas you have with you, they are beautiful, where did you find them?”

I gave Gidat a glance. I told Gidat, “I found them in Larex. The vuelessas and the young vuela were in a village that was overrun by a criminal horde. They were traded from village to village. The usual buyer of slavuelas did not perceive them as slavuela and would not buy them. The vuela with the brown hair, she is called Era. She is able to communicate through thought. She told me she would serve me.” I looked at Gidat for confirmation on this point. He nodded. I told him, “she knew my name. She knew my history. I obtained the three for them for nothing. The market was relieved to be rid of them.”

Bulkot looked at the vuelas in the distance, helping with the dim comida. He said, “they were displaced in vuel.”

Gidat quickly agreed, “they were displaced in vuel, for certain.”

The dim comida was the usual feast of the Cadiz. I was served the chunks of meat and the wild beans cooked with peppers. I watched Era, Ooya and Auvee help serve everyone. They waited until they were invited to fill their plates. Era, Ooya and Auvee went to a table with other vuelas and talked and laughed.

At the table with Bulkot and some of the vuelen, plans for the permanent village were discussed. The plan was further along than I realized. There were two vuelen here that I was unfamiliar with. Those vuelen, Damant and Murk, were well versed in handling deen. I wondered if there was actual counting, banking, that went on within the Cadizan villages. It had been my understanding that the Cadizans only used the counting houses in the surrounding villages. I continued to listen and became aware that a count house belonging to the vuelans of the Cadiz was a major reason for a permanent village to be established.

I listened to the vuelen discuss these matters, except for one detail. When there was a lull in the conversation I asked them, “what are you going to call the village? Have you decided on a name?”

The vuelen looked at each other. Damant spoke, “we should call it Kregt.”

Murk almost choked on his food. Bulkot laughed, trying not to spit his food out. I knew that Kregt was well known here. I did not know why his name would get this reaction. I had to ask, “you see a problem with naming the village for Kregt?”

Damant answered for all of them, “Kregt would not appreciate that. He does not wish to be famous.”

Murk tried to be serious and added, “Kregt is a merchant, not a village ruler.”

Bulkot agreed, “yes, and the name will most likely be simply Cadizia. It will be a great village name easily known to the trade routes.

I sensed that there was a story behind the joke that Damant made. In my position as a transporter, I decided to wait for another opportunity to hear the story.

Most of the vuelans were finishing the comida and Era came to pick up my plate and those at my table. In most places on Vul, leaves are used for plates. In the Cadiz, there are few leaves large enough to be used for plates. The Cadizans use flat pieces of a glass like material. When she walked away I watched her hips move in a smooth rocking motion. I thought to myself: That is an invitation. Era turned her head back to me and nodded slightly. She had read my mind. She didn’t have to read my mind, she knew what she was doing.

Bulkot also noticed Era as she walked away and said, “your vuela is not misplaced in vuel any longer.”

I did not hesitate with my answer, “no, she is not.”

Murk asked me, “she is a vuelessa? How did you come across a vuelessa being sold by the Larex slavuela market that is not a slave?”

“She is a vuelessa, and so is Ooya.” I looked around, trying to find Ooya among the tables. I spotted her, also helping clean up after the comida. I told the vuelen, “Era, and. I’m sure, Ooya also, read thought. Era read thought from a vuelessa named Aeia who knows me and knew that I was in Larex, near her. Aeia sent thought to Era to say to me that she will serve me. She knew my name and some information that only I would know. The market wanted to get rid of the three of them. I paid a blue apiece.”

Bulkot said, “the market did want to get rid of them!”

“Era made sure I noticed her crystal necklace and I recognized her as a vuelessa. That is why I paid for her. The vuela in the market offered three for three blues and I accepted the offer. I did not know that Ooya was also a vuelessa.”

Bulkot asked, “Ooya reads thought also? What about the young vuela?”

I said, “only the vuelessas read thought. They are protective of Auvee. The horror they all endured in the destruction of the village and murder of most of the vuelans there is difficult for Auvee, she lost her entire family.” I didn’t mention that Auvee saw some of her family be killed.

Murk asked, “their village was over run by a criminal horde. Did they say where this occurred?”

I told them, “they said it was beyond the Akavan. I had never heard of such a place.” The vuelen exchanged glances.

Bulkot said, “I have heard of villages being settled beyond the Akavan canyons. I did not know there were enough of them to attract a criminal horde.”

I realized that defending a village from a large group of outlaws was a matter of consideration. Obtaining weapons was vital to such a defense. I asked the vuelen, “has such a horde been known to attack in the Cadiz?”

Damant said, “it happened annaros ago. All in the horde were killed and we lost several of our vuelans.”

“Did you have weapons at that time?”

Damant nodded, “we had a couple of weapons. The weapons were the only reason the Cadizans overcame the horde. Since then we have obtained every weapon that Pagalund would sell to us.”

I began to realize the essential importance of my transport business. The conversation turned as the musicians began to play and vuelas began to dance. The twirling and lines that formed gathered most of the vuelas and vuelen into the merriment. I saw Auvee get dragged into the line by another vuela. She caught on to the movement and followed the line.

Era called, “come Renzt! You cannot sit on your backside!” She grabbed me and we ran into the line and followed the village dance. It was fun. We passed Auvee and Ooya in the circles. The leaders of the lines knew where to go. It was like holding hands and running through a moving maze of people.

Suva grabbed me at one point and I spun around with her. She pulled herself close to me and said, “lo Renzt, do you remember me?”

“Yes! Suva, I will never forget you!”

She spun away from me and called, “I’ve seen your new vuela, you’ve already forgotten me!”

The dance ended with Era and I coming back together somehow. We walked to the tables to sit down. I was sure Era was reading what I was going to ask but I asked anyway, “Era, you and Ooya and Auvee have been through so much. I am glad that you can enjoy vuel again.”

Era sighed. “Ooya and I are pretending to enjoy vuel in order to assist Auvee to recover from the trauma she has endured. We promised each other we would do this for her since she has been included with us throughout the ordeal.” She looked into my eyes almost the same way she did the previous dim. “I will serve you, but right now, know that you are serving me. You are kind, lo Renzt.”

No one bothered us for the next many moments. Maybe it was that I wasn’t aware of anyone else while Era bessed me. I bessed her, also, though she bessed me much more than she was being bessed. When we took a breath, there were some dancers in the lines pointing and laughing.

“Can you tell if Auvee is as happy as she appears?”

Era replied, “her dark thoughts disappear from time to time. She is improving.”

“Are you improving, Era?”

She put her head against my breast and put her arms around my waist. I heard her say, “take me to the tienda you are thinking of.”

Deep into the dim, I heard no noise around the tienda any longer. Era and I had spent ourselves again and again. I knew she would read it so I said it out loud, “I am going on at first brightness to drive to Refurio. Will you be going on with me?”

Era breathed, “I have yet to serve you, lo vuelo.”

“What do you mean by that?” I felt well served at the moment.

Era lifted up on one elbow and told me, “you think that I have been serving you with amorig. The truth is that you are healing me. When I was forced as a slavuela to amorig with vuelen, I withdrew my emotions. Amorig with you, Renzt, is allowing my amorig emotions to return.”

I smiled to myself. “I did not know that I was providing a valuable service to you.”

She made a small happy noise, “now that you know this, know also that I have many more emotions to recover.”

All I remember from that moment is that I found her lips again.

Era was sleeping when I heard the zebry snorting. This sound wakes me up. The animals need to be moved to fresh grass. They also may need more water. There was light in the early brightness sky. I saw Bulkot moving through the village, coming toward me. He called, “lo Renzt, Sola will be bright this brightness!”

I returned his greeting, “Sola will be bright, lo Bulkot.” “What brings you this way before Sola has appeared?”

“I guessed that you would be tending your team and I must speak of some things with you.” Bulkot had treated me as an important part of his village. Once again, he was doing so. He said, “your vuelas, to be clear, you are not claiming ownership of them?”

“No, Bulkot, they are free, though they may feel a loyalty to me that I did not ask for.”

Bulkot continued, “it is my understanding that the vuelessas can read thought from anyone anywhere, is that true?”

“Be kind to know, Bulkot, that their thought reading ability is beyond my understanding.”

He smiled, “I have some experience with such abilities in a vuelessa. That is why I am coming to you. Our village would be fortunate to attract a vuelessa’s services. Do you have the influence to ask one of them for such service?”

I thought of Auvee. Era and Ooya had told her that she would find a new village. I said, “Lo Bulkot, your request for your village may be fortunate for both sides.” I thought to Era what I was thinking. I was sure she would read this. I said to Bulkot, “I have asked Era to join us.”

Bulkot wasn’t sure I what I meant. He looked toward the tienda and saw Era come out and walk toward us. He turned to me, saying, “she is good. Do you think the other is as good at reading?”

I was sure that Ooya was as good and that Era had forwarded the thought I had sent her. I nodded in the direction Ooya came from to meet us. In another moment Bulkot saw them both coming to us and said, “I am impressed.”

Era and Ooya reached us and knelt. They did not try to loosen the strings on their vesses to present to us. They stood and together, said to us, “we will serve you.”

“You are aware of what Bulkot is thinking?”

Ooya spoke up, “lo Bulkot, both Era and I read sincere caring among the Cadizans. We know that we would find acceptance as a vuelessa. Era has pledged to serve lo Renzt. If you consider me to be worthy, I will serve your village as vuelessa, though we do have a request of your village.”

Bulkot was surprised at the ease of which the transaction was taking place. He said, “you are most kind, vuelessa. I certainly consider you to be worthy. What is your request?”

Era said, “lo Bulkot, we promised the young vuela that she would find another village. We believe your village would be good for her and will accept her.”

Bulkot did not hesitate. He said, “we have a family that I know would take her in as their own, vuelessa.”

I looked at all three of them. They all nodded. Everyone agreed. Bulkot grabbed my hand and put it on top of his palm. He was happy.

My wagon was loaded with vinho. That was what was in the bed. Under the wagon bed, in the shelves, were weapons from the Pagalund works. We rolled out onto the road to Refurio with an armed vuelo. Era sat on a crate of vinho in the wagon. She waved to Ooya and Auvee.

The presentation of Ooya to the Cadizan village as vuelessa took place after first brightness. Most of the villagers were present as Ooya stepped before them. She had loosened the strings on her ves so that, when she knelt and put her face to the ground, she was able to open the ves enough so that it fell away as she stood. I had seen her body when she was brought to the room in Larex. Ooya was terrifically beautiful as she brushed her hand up along her body to present herself to the village. She announced that she would serve them and many of them said Ah! to her announcement.

The road was firm this brightness and the zebry team was pulling at a good pace. A couple of periods into the trip I stopped to rest the zebry and pour them some water. We were beginning to roll into the Pua lands and I wanted to be able to roll through without stopping if I could. The armed vuelo, Pargont, who was accompanying me, agreed with this strategy. The Pua clan did not always stop wagons from the Cadiz. If we moved fast enough, we had a good chance to not be stopped at all. We had vinho to trade in the event we were stopped.

During this stop, Pargont asked me. “do you know how to handle your spin weapon?”

I pulled the weapon from my belt, cocked and aimed into the distance. I said, “yes, I think so. I have triggered a few times. I can hit things well enough at the usual range.” We both noticed Era watching closely. I asked her, “do you have any experience with weapons?”

Era was serious with her answer. I thought it was due to her involvement in the destruction of the village that she was in, but her interest was deeper. She asked, “may I handle the weapon?”

I released the cocking mechanism and gave it to her. She handled it skillfully, checking the magazine, holding it to aim, cocking and releasing. Then she crouched and aimed again. Pargont looked at me with his eyebrows raised. Era was handling the weapon with military precision.

“You seem to have experience. Were you trained with this type of weapon?”

She stood up and handed the spin weapon back to me. She said, “I have experience handling weapons. I wish I’d had one of these a few sixes ago.”

We put the water back into the wagon and drove on. It was about a period later that Pargont said to us, “stay alert. We are entering the area that we could see Puans.”

This made sense, the boo thicket narrowed on each side of the road. It would be this way for the next period before it widened out. We had a chance of meeting a wagon coming from the other direction as we reached the other end of the thicket. I called to the zebry team to increase the pace.

I felt Era’s hand on my shoulder. I asked, “what is it?”

Era was clear and serious. She said, “I am reading the same things that I was reading before the village was attacked. There is vile intent nearby.”

Pargont and I both readied our weapons. At that moment arrows came from every direction. “Get down!” I called to Era and looked back. She was already down in the wagon and appeared unhurt. I called the zebry to a gallop. The first volley of arrows hit only the wagon. I wondered if we would be as lucky with the second volley. Pargont jumped into the bed of the wagon and triggered into the thicket. The reins of the wagon had a loop that could be hooked to the wagon so that the zebry would continue their pace for awhile. I hooked the reins and crawled into the bed. We began to slow. I looked ahead. There were two Pua vuelos waving at the zebry. They had planned for our strategy.

I called, “they are going to stop us! We are going to have to shoot them!”

Pargont yelled to us, “wait until we stop, then we trigger from a stationary position.”

This made sense. The attackers would be running toward us and their arrows would be sent while they are moving. The wagon slowed enough that we lifted to trigger. Pargont on one side Era between us and I on the other. The Puan attackers on my side dropped as soon as they saw me lift up. I didn’t know what their strategy was. I triggered the seven shots at them. There were five or maybe seven or eight Puans on my side. I was sure I hit two or three of them. I hesitated for a moment. Three or four Puans jumped up and came at me. I triggered the five darts at close range, hitting two of them for sure. They stopped in their tracks. I didn’t know why they stopped. I heard Pargont wind and trigger more shots. I wound fully to reload seven more shots. Three of the Puans came forward again but had hesitated too long. I triggered the seven shots, hitting two dead on. The last one turned and ran. I spun around to find Pargont wounded on the floor of the wagon and Era triggering his weapon. Three attackers were about to jump on the wagon. Era and I triggered at them. Two of them fell away. The last attacker was Zed. The Puan clan leader that I had met on the trip a couple of brightnesses ago. He had a knife but was staring into my weapon. He did not know whether I could fire again or not. He abandoned his attack and ran.

Era did not abandon her defense. She triggered at Zed, hitting him on the outside of the upper thigh. I was winding again, remembering the two Puans that had stopped the zebry team. I lifted up above the bench to aim at them. They were not in sight. That was when I heard the scream. It was female, but it was violent. I turned to see Era had jumped out of the wagon to run down the wounded Zed. He was able to run, not at full speed. Era was at full speed and caught up to Zed as he tripped with his injured leg and went to the ground.

There was no hesitation. Era didn’t think about it. Whatever expression was on Zed’s face didn’t matter. She held the weapon an arm’s length from his head and triggered the weapon, killing the clan leader.

I noticed two of the Puans that I had hit were trying to crawl away. I had wound my weapon completely and stood up to look for any other attackers. I saw none. Pargont was in serious pain. An arrow had gone through his neck. He was bleeding. “Stay still!” I told him and looked around again. I put my hand on his chest and leaned close to him. “We’ve driven them away. You are not hurt bad. Stay quiet.”

I heard the weapon that Era was using trigger. I stood up and saw her trigger the weapon into a second wounded attacker. She had been through a horrible ordeal. Her rage at the attackers was beyond control. Era surveyed the battlefield. The attackers were all dead. She had made sure of that. I gestured a sloppy salute to her. “One of them from my side ran off.” I told her. Era was out of breath and her face was flushed. I realized that I was breathing hard.

Era held her weapon ready and stepped from one dead Puan body to another. She was ready to trigger another round into them if they were alive. In a few moments she looked up at me and called, “How is Pargont?”

I had already decided to go on to Refurio with Pargont. The trip would only be a period longer than returning to the Cadizan camp and the care for Pargont’s wound would be better in the small city of Refurio. I told Era, “He has only a flesh wound. It is in his neck and it is not bleeding much. I want to get him to Refurio. Let’s get out of here!”

Era surveyed the area, with her weapon ready. I stared into the thicket to see if I could see anything. I called to her in a low voice. “Era, are you reading something?” She nodded, no, to me and came toward the wagon.

I said, “Wait. Help me drag that one to the wagon.” I had the idea that I would need Zed’s dead body in case I met Suradad up ahead.”

Era read my concern. She asked, “this is the clan leader?”

“Yes, this is Zed. He was the leader of what the Puan trader Suradad called a brother clan. I,”

Era finished the sentence, “think we will meet Suradad up ahead?”

I nodded. I didn’t have to say anything to Era anymore. Her mind was synchronized with my thoughts word for word. She did have to ask me an occasional question.

She asked, “you knew Zed because Suradad brought him to meet you. How are you sure you will meet Suradad up ahead?”

I just shrugged. I knew she would read why.

Era said this for both of us, “you have an intuitive feeling based on experience. That is good.”

We tied Zed’s body on the back of the wagon bed and I drove the zebry away from the scene. Era rode in the bed with Pargont. I wondered about his condition and looked back at her. She had propped Pargont up with a bag of supplies to elevate his shoulders and head. I understood from her smile that Pargont was resting without too much pain. I drove the zebry on through the thicket at a normal trot. Zebry can pull this kind of weight at a trot all of the brightness. The zebry also knew the road. I scanned the thickets for any kind of threat. I wondered if Era would be able to warn of another attack. She called up to me, “yes, I am sure I will be able to warn you.”

I sent another thought: You handled the weapon skillfully, were you trained with weapons?

Era paused before telling me, “I am familiar with handling weapons.” I wanted to get some details about this when she called, “your friend Suradad is up ahead!”

You are kind. Do you read ill intent?

She replied, “no.”

The thicket opened up in this area. Suradad often used this open area to meet wagons, and there he was. He held his hand up. I raised my arm to return his greeting. He could tell that no one was with me on the bench. His face was asking what was wrong as I pulled to a stop.

Suradad could see Era behind me and was suspicious of what was going on. He called, “Renzt! Is there trouble?”

What does he think?

In a moment she said in a low voice, “he does not know about what happened.”

I said to Suradad, only, “yes.” I stepped down and motioned for him to follow me to the back of the wagon. Suradad walked quickly. Passing by the wagon, he saw Era and Pargont with a Puan arrow in his neck. I was untying Zed’s body from the back of the wagon bed.

Suradad understood what had happened immediately. He stared at the body and asked, “how many were with him?”

I checked with Era, thinking: was there twelve or fifteen?

Softly but firmly she said, “sixteen. We killed thirteen.” I wondered if she had seen the other two Puans that had slowed the zebry. She added, “One ran from you and two others ran the other way.”

Suradad looked at our weapons and realized that several things had happened. He knew that Zed had attacked us, not wanting to settle for a couple of bottles of vinho. He knew that we now had superior weapons that could repel an attack and decimate high numbers of Puans. He considered that the Cadizans were far stronger than his Puans and the days of being able to exact a toll for using this road were coming to an end.

Suradad considered all that he was told, “Zed was stupid. Greed killed him. Davot tried to teach him patience but he would not learn.” He looked at the dead heap on the ground. “He will be patient now.”

Suradad looked at us and said, “Zed did not have fourteen in his clan. Some of them were from Davot’s clan. Zed had followers from Davot’s clan. This is a terrible loss for the Pua.” Suradad had several Puans with him. They had gathered behind him now. He turned to them and then back to me to say, “Davot will seek revenge. He will not be able to remain as the clan leader unless he does so.” Suradad shook his head, saying, “there will be bad trouble, bad trouble, bad trouble.”

The Puans with Suradad were disturbed by what Suradad was saying. I thought to Era: What are you reading from Suradad? Does he think that the Pua clan will make war on the Cadizans?

Era got up and jumped from the back of the wagon. She pulled a string at her waist, pulled her ves off over her head while kneeling before Suradad. I was unable to guess what she was going to say. She stood and fixed her eyes in his, saying, “I serve you, Suradad. Go to your leader, Davot. Tell him that if he makes war on the Cadizans the Pua will all be killed. The Cadizans have weapons that can kill tens of Puans in a moment. If the Pua clans attack the Cadizans the Cadizans will kill every Puan they find and the Pua clan will be gone from the face of Vul forever.”

Suradad listened. He was stunned by what he was hearing. Era was telling him the truth and he knew what she said was true. Era waited. She was reading him. She stared into his eyes and waited.

Era read some question in Suradad’s mind and told him, “you must go to Davot now and tell him what has happened. You must tell him that two Cadizans had weapons that made them as strong as twenty Cadizans. You must tell him that the Pua clan attacked the Cadizans and he cannot seek revenge. You must tell Davot that if he seeks revenge that he and every warrior with him will be killed in moments. You must also tell him that the Cadizans know that if they are attacked they can kill every attacker with ease.”

Era waited again. Suradad turned to his clan vuelans. He looked back to Era. He assessed her carefully. Era breathed deeply. She knew what she was doing. Suradad saw vuel in her body. He wanted vuel. A large part of Puan trade was the collection of meats and trade goods from the thicket road. Suradad knew he would no longer be able to collect his tolls for use of the road.

Suradad asked her, “what will the Pua do to live?”

Era had already read this question from him. She was far ahead of Suradad. She spoke softly but firmly. “you must tell Davot to make peace with the Cadizans and allow them passage on the road. They will pay the Pua one blue per wagon. When this becomes well known, many wagons will come through this road. The blues will add up for the Pua.”

Once again, Era waited. She read a problem from Suradad. She added, “the Pua clan will also be paid one blue for each deer skin. That will provide enough deen for the Pua to be able to purchase what is needed for the Puan vuelans.”

I wondered where she dreamed up this idea.

Suradad was unsure. He asked, “how do you know that the Cadizans will do these things?”

Era was anticipating this question also. She told Suradad, “the Cadizans will show the Pua that they are the friends of the Pua by bringing cattle to the Puan high meadow. Cattle will thrive there and the Pua clans will eat heartily for all the brightnesses to come.”

Suradad wanted to believe these things. He looked into Era’s eyes and asked her, “how do you know these things?”

Era took another deep breath and told the Pua trader, “you had a vuela in your clan that Davot thought was a sorceress. Her name was Ua.” I hadn’t told her this, she was pulling this knowledge from Suradad’s memory.

Era held her eyes in his and told him, “I am the same as Ua. Tell Davot that Ua will come to him and tell him the same thing that I have said to you. Tell Davot that Ua will come to the high rock on the forty third. He can meet her there.”

Suradad was willing to believe this about Era. He asked, “you are a sorceress like the vuela Ua?”

Era did not hesitate. “I am the same as Ua. We are vuelessas. We are vuel.”

Suradad had one more question, “what will happen to the Pua if we do not do as you say?”

Era’s posture relaxed. She looked down. She told him, “what will happen to the Pua has happened so many times before that it is written in stone.” She looked back up at Suradad with a worried expression. She continued, “the more primitive vuelans, the vuelans that try to fight with the old weapons see all of their warriors killed. They lose their lands. Those who survive are pushed away to land that no one else wants. On those unwanted lands it is difficult to survive. This has happened the same way each time in the past annaros.

Era paused again, waiting for Suradad to process the information. Then she continued, “the Pua do not need to die. I am a vuelessa. I am vuel. The Pua must become part of Vuel. When the Pua become part of vuel, the Pua will thrive and multiply.”

Suradad considered these things for some time. He looked warily at Era and asked, “how do you know the Pua will thrive and multiply. Do you see the future of the Pua clans?”

Era took her time. I couldn’t tell what she was going to say. I was as anxious as Suradad was to hear this. She breathed deeply again and motioned toward Sola, and said, “lo Suradad, Sola creates all things and knows all things. I am a vuelessa. I read what Sola tells me. I see the future that Sola allows me to see, and I see the Pua clan living peacefully and thriving in that future.”

Kregt 1.2

I have heard that the Great Bay is a nice place to live

This story is told by Kregt

Aeia was born on Earth. Her parents are from Vul. She has a brother here that ranks high in the Tesar ranger corps. Her sister was in the Trade Council of Centium. Another brother works in the Akavan mining region. Aeia, my friend of many annaros, is Vuelan. Our friend Ua and I were brought here with Aeia, because we happened to be close to her at the moment she was gathered to be taken to Vul. The Race of humans that are populating Vul use the term gather, rather than, abduct. When I found Aeia in Centium I was sure that she belonged on this planet. I believed that she was supposed to be someone important here. She had been trained as a vuelessa. I helped her become the important vuelessa that she is today.

She has kindly suggested that I leave Centium.

I have found success in vuel. Strangely, I benefited from being sent, against my will, with a work crew to the planet Govul, which should have been the end of my story. Work crews do not return from Govul. However, I met a vuelo there that had found a way to bribe his way back to Vul. Joining his scheme had no downside and I gained a fortune in deen. There were some unfortunate associates in the scheme who wanted their payoff up front. They were paid with the darts from spin weapons. A couple of the associates that did not agree that early payments were fair, killed them. I didn’t know such weapons existed up until that demonstration.

Due to that episode, I have remained apart from most associations involving the governance of vuel. I have changed the practices in one business sector. The serving vuela’s that work in the houses are better treated now. I, along with my associates, have created new enterprises involving vinho and colored oils that vuelas use to enhance their appearance. Colored oils is the descriotion for cosmetics in vuel. I produce entertainment for the Houses of Diversion. I own a transport company that appears to the average vuelan to carry the usual freight.

One of the strange things I encountered while working in my first job turned out to be of great value. The floating block that was poking out of the swamp land while I was leading a dog team turned out to be instrumental in the defense of Centium and possibly of Vul itself. A race of beings, the Intempla , that want all planets that support life to be free of humans wanted to annihilate everyone on Vul. Aeia and I agreed that a victory lap would be inappropriate. The vuelans of Centium had given credit to the Red gods. Once again, due to my recent past, I did not wish to become a public figure.

During the brightnesses after the flight to burn the elevated railway on the plaza I stayed out of Centium completely. My new espa, Eloe, did go into Centium to shop for both of us. I sent her with Tuhukt, who is excellent with throwing knives, to protect her. Tuhukt does not need to throw a knife that often. Seeing his belt with fifteen or twenty knives on it is an adequate deterrent.

During captain Zhodag’s visit to Casa Lago he and I had a discussion that involved matters that involved no one else. We sat in the large chairs in the room at the front of the Casa and asked that only E’ella and V’aya come into the room while we were there. We drank some fine vinho that my friend Fettik had given me for such an occasion. Floating transports and weapons were going to be topics of discussion. I knew that there were floating transports in use on Vul. Aeia told me that she and Ua were taken from the landing area to Pleasance in a floating transport. I saw them being herded into the transport that day that we arrived on Vul. She also said that the trained vuelessas were transported to their first assignments. I brought up the subject with Zhodag directly by asking, “Captain, why is the use of floating transport technology being withheld from vuel?”

Zhodag took a long sip of vinho. The captain appeared to be impressed with the vinho. His eyes found mine.. “Kregt, I did not know a vinho of this quality was available on Vul. You may be a vuelo we need to have an alliance with.”

I smiled, I wanted Captain Zhodag to feel comfortable enough to answer some questions. “Rremember who serves you quality vinho, Captain.”

Zhodag nodded and answered, “your question of floating block technology. The material is not processed on Vul.”

“Is there a reason that it could not be?”

Zhodag shook his head, “no, there isn’t. We have had no reason to advance vuel until now.”

I thought of Pagalund’s shop in Refurio, that was destroyed, and the need for weapons as personal protection. There was a connection between the two subjects that I wanted to make. “Why was Pagalund’s weapon works destroyed?”

Zhodag gave an expression of deep thought. I wondered if Eloe or Aeia were reading our thoughts in our conversation. He said, “Pagalund’s production became too efficient. We believed that weapons were being distributed too quickly.”

“Are you aware of the armed gangs that roam across Vul?”

Zhodag brushed this comment off, saying, “we believe they are a minor problem.”

“The roaming gangs are becoming larger and more violent. They will eventually obtain weapons and vuel itself could begin to break down. You are trying to control vuel but vuel is developing beyond any control. The population is also outgrowing the economic opportunities.”

Zhodag nodded again. He told me, “you are seeing the development of vuel close up. We are seeing it from far away. Your perception is probably more accurate. I told Aeia that I would advance technological understanding. Do you have suggestions?”

His open ended offer was amazing. Too amazing. I wasn’t sure what to ask. I didn’t even know where to begin. I asked, “I have not seen metals in vuel. Is iron ore available here?”

Zhodag said, “iron ore like that on Earth is rare. What you call silver is plentiful. What you call gold is even more plentiful. I understand your underlying question. What building blocks are easily available on Vul? You have metals such as those used in electronics. What you call silicone is plentiful. Resins used in construction are already in wide use. Crystals that will facilitate radio broadcasts are readily available. You are stumbling into the reason we are bringing increased numbers of Earth humans to Vul. There is going to be an industrial revolution in vuel.”

I was waiting for the opportunity to ask, “Captain, have you been to Earth?”

Zhodag casually answered, “I have been to Earth four times, while most Resjed have only one or two voyages. Why do you ask?”

“I know something of astronomy. That distance is too far. Earth’s understanding of physics would not allow the voyage without time travel. Do the Resjed have the ability to travel through time?”

Zhodag laughed. “Time itself is only a perception. We are aware of your scientific equation, energy equals mass and the speed of light multiplied by itself. That equation is true. Resjed physics eliminates the need for the energy in the equation.”

I stared at Zhodag for a moment. “You travel through the universe using no energy?”

He said, “not much energy.”

All I could say was, “alright.” I wanted to ask about the river boats, “the motors used in river boats, those are steam powered? Wait! How long does it take?”

Zhodag could tell I was not catching on, “the river boats or the voyage to Earth?”

,Politely, I asked, “the voyage to Earth. How long does that take?”

“That voyage takes seven annaros to complete. Our technology also allows us to lower our own metabolic rates so that the voyage only uses one third of an annaro of our life span to complete. Earth humans experience only one annaro of their life years to complete the voyage.”

I thought to myself, one annaro? That’s around fifteen months, but we are on the space craft for ten years? I asked Zhodag, “It took, seven annaro to fly here?”

Captain Zhodag repeated part of his explanation: “The coating used on your type of humans causes you to biologically experience only one annaro of life years to complete the voyage.”

“Captain Zhodag, you are saying that it took seven annaro to go between Earth and Vul, and I aged one annaro?”

He did not understand my surprise. “Biologically, that’s correct. I will add that the coating tends to reduce the age appearance of Earth humans. It also changes how the human male scrotum tissue performs, though it does not significantly alter testicular functions. You already know this.”

I motioned toward my testicles to ask, “so these still work, normally?”

Zhodag assured me, “you will perform as well as you performed before. Though it may take an annaro to regain fertility. Earth vuelas usually do not conceive for more than one annaro.”

I thought about what he just told me. “Aeia does look younger than I had remembered and I wondered why that was. My espa, she is an annaro older than I am and she appears much younger.” I was trying to realize everything Zhodag was telling me. V’aya came into the room with another bottle of the vinho and refreshed our chalices.

Captain Zhodag continued, “your question about the river boats. The steam is only to add antrib for acceleration. The motors are spring loaded magnetic.”

I knew about springs and I knew about magnets, I did not know how they would work together to create enough propulsion for a river boat. My understanding had been that the motors were steam powered. “The magnets are not electromagnets?”

Zhodag had as smirk for this answer, “the motors are started and aided by spring action. There is steam antrib that replaces a battery. How do you think Pagalund formed the idea to create a spin weapon? We did not foresee that clever invention.”

Now I laughed, “you did not show anyone how to do that? Pagalund invented it on his own?”

Zhodag admitted, “Pagalund, along with a few others. Pagalund is the most proficient. You do know that Pagalund is producing weapons in a new location?”

I did know this. I was already making arrangements to ship weapons for him. I was sure that Zhodag knew this, or would find out soon. “You know I know that, and you will find out that I will be shipping his weapons directly to his customers.”

Zhodag told me, “you are kind to confirm that for us, lo Kregt. We think he is smart to keep his new location a secret.”

“That is why you destroyed the previous location?”

He said, “it was not the only reason.”

I waited. Zhodag had suggested that there was more to the decision to destroy Pagalund’s works. He took a long sip and continued, “there was a large order of weapons that Pagalund was shipping to the bay villages. It was intended for civil use by those villages. The shipment was going to be redirected to a criminal gang. The possible plan could have been to unite several gangs to form an expeditionary force. We stepped in to interrupt the transaction before it could be redirected.”

Something did not make sense to me. “If the Resjed do not watch vuel that closely, how did you pick up on the activities of the criminal gang?”

Zhodag told me, “we receive excellent information about some things from the Tesars.”

“Then you are familiar with Dekt?”

Zhodag said, “yes.” He added nothing to his one word answer. I understood not to ask for further detail.

“The bay villages, are they in the Great Bay area?”

Zhodag nodded positively. Then he said, “you cannot stay in this area. Someone would eventually discover that you were the god on the floating block. Aeia cannot have that. You can understand the difficulty it would bring to both of you.”

“I am realizing that.” Now I took a long sip of the vinho. “I have been told that the Great bay is a pretty area to live in.”

Zhodag was waiting for me to suggest this. “Kregt, I will offer and request.”

I had heard this phrase one other time in vuel. The Earth phrase is quid pro quo. I said to him, “I would invite you to, with pleasure.”

Zhodag said, “the bay villages are a disorganized group of vuelans that are friendly enemies. Any large actions that occur will need financial assistance. You have the ability to provide such financial assistance. You also have the ability to assure that a project is for a positive cause. You would be of great value to vuel if you accepted that responsibility. You have described it yourself, vuel is developing beyond our ability to control, or manage.”

I had a question that involved another basic resource. Deen. I had learned of the control of the supply of deen long ago from the business leader I met on Govul. The vuelo that called himself Tope. Tope had organized the bribery of the guards that allowed the escape of our Govul work gang. He told me that the supply of deen was tightly controlled. I was sure that Zhodag did not know how much deen I had in reserve because of my share of the crystals that Tope discovered on Govul. He knew I had enough to launch large enterprises.

I decided I would ask him the basic question about the supply of deen. I asked, “the supply of deen is carefully controlled in vuel. How is an industrial expansion supposed to occur if there is a limited supply of colored crystals?”

Zhodag smiled, “Kregt, you will find the supply of deen unlimited for projects that the Resjed approve.”

Gald and Eloe met me after I went out to say loa to Zhodag that dim. Gald said, “we can’t wait to hear what he said to you.”

My mind was still catching up with what I heard from Zhodag. I asked them, “you’re not interested in what I told him?”

Eloe laughed and put her arm around my neck and said, “not that much my amoro.”

For this discussion, we went to the big room. Aeia joined us along with Brand. I announced, “he told me that there was going to be an industrial revolution in vuel.” Brand, Eloe and Aeia’s eyes widened at this pronouncement.

Gald asked, “what is that, exactly?”

Eloe gave the best answer, saying, “it is a time during which many inventions that advance civilization begin to occur simultaneously.”

Gald tried to understand the concept, “invention, such as using colored oils on the face of a vuela?”

Eloe smiled, “yes. That is an invention. The inventions that come about in an industrial revolution are motors for wagons, or a device that allows you to communicate by voice to someone in another village, things such as that.”

Gald thought about this for a moment. “I have thought of many uses for our oils. It seemed that I was the only vuelo thinking this way. In this industrial revolution, will many vuelos think of new things to, you are saying, invention?

Eloe helped with the word, “the word is invent. Vuelans will invent new things. The new thing they invent will be an invention. You, Gald, will supply oils to most of these inventions. That will mean that you will have to invent new types of oils.”

We watched Gald begin to think about things that he had probably dreamed about before.

Brand wondered, “do you think someone will invent black powder? You don’t want to be the last one to figure that out.”

“You may not have to. Oil is available, so it can be separated into fuels. A highly combustible fuel within a spin weapon could give the same propulsion.”

Brand interrupted, “that would give a bullet the velocity and range that no one here has ever seen before.”

Aeia stared intently at Brand. She was reading and hearing what we were talking about. She said, “we will need to tell Dekt about this. The Tesars will want to know about a more powerful weapon.”

Gald asked, “the word combustible. What does that mean?”

Brand asked Gald, “do you make oils that burn?”

Gald said, “certainly.”

“If you contain that burning oil in a closed box, the energy is concentrated and causes an ekrix.”

I knew that Ekrix is the vuelan word that is the closest to the English word for explosion.

Gald laughed, “that is not a good thing to cause!”

Brand laughed also. “No, it’s not, unless you can control how big the ekrix is and what the ekrix does.”

Gald realized what Brand was thinking about now. He said, “Ah!”

Brand’s eyes widened as he agreed, “AH! Yes, Ah!”

I noticed Eloe and Aeia looking at each other. They were having their own conversation.

I thought to both of them: You realize that weapons will be advanced no matter what and that it is necessary for vuelans to advance them?

They both looked at me. Only Eloe answered, “yes. We do understand.”

The conversation continued until the effect of the vinho and the need for sleep overwhelmed us.

In our room in Casa Lago, I sent thought to Eloe: You have traded thought with Aeia. Are matters in Centium developing as she wishes?

Eloe answered, “she believes that they will.”

Would you like to return to Pleasance and pick up where we left off?

She said, “my amoro, we only missed one day of our mionomog. The adventure we’ve had cannot be matched. Casa Lago is a beautiful place. We can enjoy each other here.”

She read my mind. I picked her up and carried her into the bedroom.

The next few brightnesses were spent strengthening the frame on the floating block. Eloe, though she was not thrilled to do so, floated with me to practice on the block. I told her, “you have more experience floating on it that anyone else.”

She replied, “I’ve been as lucky as you’ve been. That’s all.”

We practiced in the dim. The glow of Govul gave enough light to see the terrain under us. I let the block lift and Eloe would read my thought to know which way to lean and move. Landing remained the most difficult maneuver. Geltb had woven a heavy cord to an anchor with two hooks that were big enough to catch around a regular sized tree. Several practice sessions taught us that a backward lean with a speed of thirty miles per hour would slow us and lower us close to the ground where we would skid and bounce a few lengths. The practice landings were becoming routine. I thought to Eloe: When we slow down and skid this time, I will jump off and throw the hook around that tree.

She was worried, “you’re keeping the cord on your waist, aren’t you?”

Yes, Go to the floor and hold on. We also fitted the floor of the block with cushions in many places that we could fall into during landings. We leaned forward to lower the altitude, which was only the height of the tree tops, then we leaned back to slow our speed. We bumped and skidded a few times. I ducked under the railing and jumped toward a tree with the anchor hook ready. The hook caught the tree trunk. I grasped the knot on my waist cord to slow the block. Eloe was on a floor cushion, watching me. Everything held. The hook and the cording were more than strong enough. Eloe did slip forward on her belly. I ran to the block to grab the front cord to take that hook to another tree trunk. Eloe held onto her cord tied to the back railing post with her legs spread open to help stabilize herself. I thought: That is beautiful.

Eloe read my thought and called to me, “I’m glad you like it! Are we tied down?”

“Yes. We’re secure.”

She pulled herself up and checked the cords for herself. She said, “that’s good that you are able to get us anchored by yourself without having to crash into a tree. We might be able to survive using this thing.”

Your confidence in me is kind. I sat down on the block.

Eloe sat down next to me. She looked up at the glow of Govul. “The glow of the light is beautiful this dim.”

I sent my thought: It is beautiful because you are in it.

She leaned into me and asked, “what are we going to do now? Where are we going to go?”

We probably cannot live here after what has gone on and the part we played in it. Then I thought: I have been told that the Great Bay area is a nice place to live. I also thought: You probably didn’t see the nice places in the Bay area when you were there.

“No, I didn’t. Slaves and animals don’t get to stay in the nice places.”

That would be a reason to go live there. We could try to correct how some vuelans are treated in the diversion exhibits.

She had not heard this term. “Was that what I was there? A diversion exhibit?”

“That is the term that’s used when there is no performance by the vuela or vuelo. In your case, you did something but it was still considered a diversion exhibit.”

Eloe was interested in my idea. “You cannot represent slaves and animals, can you?”

“No. but I’m sure that I could buy the entire production.”

Eloe whispered, as if someone would hear, “I keep forgetting how much deen you have.”

I stared into the thicket. “We probably need to get back. I’m hearing noises around here.” I didn’t waste any time getting the anchors from around the trees. When I jumped onto the block as it lifted I heard a snapping sound from below me. Eloe shrieked. I scrambled into the middle of the block. “What was that? Did you see what it was?”

She didn’t say anything. She pointed at the ground. I held on, letting us rise more, then got to my knees and grabbed the railing and looked back. “What is that?”

She asked, “you don’t know?”

“It looks like an Earth cougar. I didn’t know those existed here. Kerkd and Geltb never said anything about them.” I watched the cat move in the dim light. It was definitely feline. It was fluid in it’s movements.

Eloe shook her head, saying, “that was too close for comfort. You didn’t know there were cougars on Vul? I wonder what other creatures we don’t know about?”

I felt a wave of nervousness from the adrenaline that had kicked in from fear. “That is going to my first question to Kerkd and Geltb. Did you know there are Pua?” That was when I remembered and said, “they do have them here. They are called Puas. It is what we would call a cougar, but I’ve never seen one and no one I know of has ever mentioned seeing one.”

Eloe asked, “we’re not that far away from the hacienda, are we?”

I looked toward the direction we had come from. “I would say a good horizon or more, so, no we’re not that far away.”

We had set up a place to land the block that was not in plain sight from the hacienda. Eloe sent thought to Aeia to send Kerkd or Geltb out to meet us and tell them to bring weapons. It was only moments when the landing site came into view. A vuelo with a torch was walking toward the site. Our glide brought us in to the net we set up and Kerkd caught the tail cord that Eloe threw him.

Kerked secured the block and asked, “is a predator near?”

I pointed in the direction we came from. “There is a Pua one horizon that way.”.

Kerkd said, “ah, we have seen evidence of this with some deer kills. I am glad to hear that it is not a wildwolf.”

Eloe did not hesitate, “I am glad of that too! How dangerous are the Puas?”

Kerkd asked, “they usually only hunt in the dim. Did a Pua attack you?”

“One leaped trying to catch my foot as we lifted.”

Kerkd added, “then there was more than one Pua. They only attack more than one vuelan if there are two or more of them. There may be a pride of them hunting this area.”

“Has that happened before?”

Kerkd said, “yes, though that was annaros ago.”

Eloe hugged my arm. She whispered, “the Great Bay is sounding more attractive.”

The brightness came that we were to leave Casa Lago. On our way, we would be by flying over Centium pretending to be red gods demonstrating support for Aeia. I had told Eloe that I was glad to do this for Aeia and for vuel. I had also told her that I doubted that the ruse would be believed.

Eloe said, “I have the same doubt, amoro. I wonder if I am reading my doubt from you, though.”

Does that happen? Do my thoughts blend in with yours?

Eloe caressed my arm. She said, “your thought is always there. It is like there is an ongoing conversation in my head between us.”

I wondered if this bothered her.

She said, “It doesn’t bother me, no. The conversation goes on deeper in my consciousness. Sometimes I don’t even pay attention to it.”

I did make one trip into Centium. If I was going to live in the Great Bay area, I was going to have to take some deen with me. There is no such thing as a wire transfer in vuel. At first brightness, I had Tuhukt drive me in the dog cart into Centium and wait for me at the count house where I had a signature box. This count house is known as the Street of Coins Count. It is on the street of Coins. While my businesses grew in Centium I became familiar with Gordunon, the proprietor of this count house. I had sent word to him that I wanted to meet him early this brightness. Over the rotations Gordunon and I had cooperated with many transactions. We had developed trust in each other. He was waiting for me inside the entrance when I arrived.

Gordunon greeted me with a smile, calling, “Sola is already bright for me, lo Kregt!”

I returned his happiness, “Sola brightened for me when I turned onto this street, lo Gordunon.”

He said, “come up the ramp to my post, we must have some jav. I am anxious to hear what you will say to me.” Gordunon invited me to his private office in the count house.

In his post, I sipped the hot jav, “what have you added to this jav, Gordunon?”

Gordunon was especially glad that I liked this taste. He said, “do you like it? It is a touch of kanela.”

“I have tasted this before, long ago. You have made it better, I believe.”

Gordunon joked, “my talent is wasted here in the count business. I should be a jav provider.”

“Perhaps you should. How is the count commerce this six?” I wanted to check on the stability of commerce in Centium. It occurred to me that there could have been many vuelans wanting their deen from the count houses due to perceived turmoil.

Gordunon became concerned. “commerce was chaotic for a couple of brightnesses. It is more controlled chaos now.”

“How are your reserves holding up?”

Gordunon remained concerned, “we are glad to see the chaos be more controlled.” We also hold the deposits for one of the traitorous families. The council of commerce has instructed that this deen be held aside. It is a substantial amount!”

“I want to help, lo Gordunon. I also must invest in new commerce.” Now he was seriously concerned. I told him, “do not worry, I am bringing an amber to you to support your house commerce.”

This brightened Gordunon significantly. “You are depositing an amber?”

“Yes. I accumulated it some rotations ago and have been keeping it in my signature box to collateralize my operations.” This was a concept that Gordunon would readily accept. He was quick to say, “I believe it is time to put it into circulation.” Gordunon was paying attention to my every syllable

“I want to use half of it, you can use the other half to support your house.”

Gordunon enthusiastically said, “Ah!” I was sure he had been happy at other times in his life. This was probably one of his happiest moments.

He exclaimed, “lo Kregt! You are of council to me!” Gordunon gave me a huge compliment. “That will more than replace the house’s level of deen on hold. When word of this spreads, it will aid many count houses.” Gordunon remembered that I wanted to take some of the deen out of his count. He asked, “how much did you say you wanted to take for your use?”

I smiled, “I believe I have seventy six yellow in your house, am I correct?”

He knew the amount in my account, down to each blue. He said, “seventy six and over fifty clear.”

I said, “I will only accept fifty yellow and give me the fifty clear.” This doubled my deen on deposit with his house.

Gordunon brightened again. “It is your deen! You may certainly accept more!”

“No, lo Gordunon, it is better with you.”

Outside the count house Tuhukt had the dogs ready. He had made sure they drank water and called to them when he saw me. I got in the cart and sat behind him. My weapon was on the floor beside me. He called the dogs and they took us away from Centium with a pace that I could tell was faster than usual. I called to Tuhukt, “can the dogs keep this up?”

He told me, “they know there is food at the hacienda for them. They know the distance. They may take less time than ever for this run. Dogs are smarter than we think!”

When we turned onto the Lago road I picked up my weapon and watched carefully. I thought, due to current circumstances, we might encounter a robber. Such was not the case. There were many vuelans on the road at this time of the brightness. They were walking toward Casa Lago. The vuelans continued to be drawn to Casa Lago in the belief that they would see the red gods there. I put my weapon down and began to wave to them as we passed. The dogs had to slow down many times because of the pedestrian traffic. We were recognized as being from the hacienda so the vuelans politely stepped aside for us. The spectacle illustrated to me that vuel was fragile at this time.

At the hacienda, Geltb was in front of the casa to meet us. Someone had to be in front of the casa at all times now in order to control the crowd that continually appeared. He greeted us, “Are they coming all the way from Centium?”

Tuhukt answered, “yes. The same as every brightness this past six.”

Geltb said to me, “O’ea and Eloe have a surprise for you by the lake.”

“Are they wearing vesses?”

Geltb and Tuhukt laughed loudly at this. Geltb said, “yes, I believe they are!”

I laughed with them, “then it will be a surprise!” I went through the casa on my way.

V’aya came to me and asked, “lo Kregt, will you be having desayun?”

“Yes, V’aya, I can not meet the brightness without your desayun. Do you know what is going on out there?” I paused and looked out the back window.

V’aya said, “it is a surprise, and a secret that Eloe is protecting.”

This meant that Eloe didn’t want Aeia to know about it. She was shielding the thought in O’ea’s and her minds. I went out to see what it was.

O’ea called to me, “lo Kregt! Can you tell what we are making?

I could see long poles of young boo tree stretching out at angles to each other with a crosspiece that appeared to hold the V shape. There were black and dark green grasses on the V shape. I could not imagine what it was. “No, I cannot.”

Eloe was coming up from the far end of the lake with more of the black and dark green grasses.

O’ea called to her, “you are right. He has no clue!”

Eloe called back to her and to me, “good! That will help with the surprise!”

O’ea called back to me, “you are kind, lo Kregt. Now go have desayun with V’aya!”

I waved my hand at them both. “I am not supposed to know what this is, is that correct?”

Eloe called, “that’s correct. Now go!”

I realized that my ignorance was necessary to help keep a secret from Aeia. I could not tell at all what they were doing. I asked myself. Were they building something? I could not imagine. If Aeia tried to read something from me she would get nothing. I had no coherent thought about this.

The desayun meal that V’aya and E’ella prepared was wonderful, as usual. Aeia and Gald joined me. I could tell that Aeia’s mind was filled with the stress of what she had become here as a vuelessa in vuel. In a moment, she looked up at me and stared into my eyes. Through all of the details that stressed her mind, she had read my thought. I remembered her looking into my eyes that day in the Vuela’s Coin. She blew her hair up out of her dirt smudged face by extending her bottom lip. She looked right at me that brightness and did not recognize me. This brightness, I looked into her eyes again. This time, I did not recognize her. My friend, Alecia, was not there. I smiled slowly. I was looking at Aeia, the vuelessa of Centium.

She shook her head at me and asked, “what?”

Gald looked up with a mouthful of fried egg and bacon. He had become fond of this food from the faraway land. I glanced at him and said to Aeia, “you have told me that you would serve me. Now, you must serve all of Centium. You have become what you were supposed to become.”

She took a breath and looked down at her plate.

I said to her, “better finish those duck eggs.”

We were able to practice with the streamer A frame tied to the floating block. Eloe and I floated up with it in the far field to make sure we could tow it correctly. I called to Eloe, “the red leaves crossing to make the A is a great idea.”

She called back to me, “O’ea said that would make the image look real. I thought it was a great idea! It does look like the vuelessa’s signature, doesn’t it?”

We landed into the landing net in the bushy area and then had to replace many of the leaves and grasses that were ripped off of the streamer frame. We did not practice again.

While we were gathering our things to leave, Eloe saw the deen belt I put the deen crystals in. She asked, “by the light of Sola! How much deen is that?”

“It would be over half an amber. Remember my amora, we’re rich.”

She replied, “I am beginning to catch on.”

V’aya and E’ella prepared some light foods for Eloe and me to eat before we left. I asked V’aya to have Kerkd and Geltb and O’ea meet us on the patio. When they gathered, I announced to them all, “you have become my family. I will not be gone long and certainly not forever.” I glanced at Eloe. I told them, “we don’t know how long it will be, though.” I took out six clear crystals and handed them to V’aya, E’ella, Geltb, and O’ea. I gave two to Kerkd. Be kind to accept this extra gift. Kerkd, be kind to give the second one to Tuhukt.” I continued, “this is your home as well as mine. I want you all to treat it as it is your home. We have discussed before that more housing could be built so that your families can live here in the future. I would like to see that.”

They all expressed their gratitude and said they would miss both of us. We talked together in the shaded Sola on the patio until Eloe stood up quickly and announced, “it is Aeia! The plaza assemblage has begun.”

I looked at them all and said, “this is it!”

Kerkd and Geltb followed us and helped us launch the streamer frame so that it would not be damaged. Eloe waved to them as we floated away from the hacienda. We tilted forward to float up as high as we could before turning back to float over Casa Lago. This was to make it appear to any onlookers that we had come from far beyond the hacienda lands. I thought to Eloe: I’m trying to make sure we give this plan every chance to work.

She called to me, “Aeia is sure it will work.” Eloe had arranged branches and leaves around the railing to camouflage us. She called to me again, “the crowd is all the way out here!”

I could see ahead to Centium now. I sent the thought: The crowds get larger as we approach Centium! Has she asked us to make the run?

Eloe paused, then called, “no she has not, slow down some.”

I wondered how I was going to slow down. The floating block has an altitude and a speed that it likes and you cannot change it much.

Eloe called out, “She has called! She says to make the pass!”

We could hear the crowds cheering from the ground that we were passing over. The noise continued to grow as we moved closer to Centium. I thought: The noise must be deafening on the ground.

Eloe called to me, “Aeia can barely hear herself think.”

“Tell Aeia to point behind the constable’s building from the plaza!” I was sure no one on the ground could hear my voice due to the volume of noise we could hear at our altitude. Now we saw the plaza and the vuelans filling it. The impaling spears were upright and there were vuelans corded together by the spears. I tried to look at the prisoners. They could not wave but they appeared to be cheering with the crowd.

We passed over the constable’s building. I could see Aeia standing in an opening in the crowd, her ves at her feet. She pointed to us with both hands. The cheering was loud all the way up at our altitude, which was probably no more than two hundred lengths.

Eloe called out, “the constables are saluting us! It is working! It is working!”

I stood and looked back to see what Eloe described. Do you see Aeia waving to us?

Eloe paused before calling to me, “yes. I do. I am saying loa to her for both of us.”

I leaned forward and we picked up some speed. In a moment we crossed the Yuko. The Vuela Yuko was docked at the pier. I wasn’t afraid of talking anymore. I said, “I am glad that the streamer frame flew with stability. That must have helped the image.”

Eloe nodded, telling me, “Aeia told me the streamers were amazing! She loved it, and she was completely surprised!”

I thought to her: Then we pulled it off. I reached back to grasp Eloe’s hand as she reached to grasp mine. In Eloe’s eyes, I saw a question, and she wasn’t looking at me. I saw wonder in her eyes. I turned to look forward. A bright light was in front of us. The light quickly filled the sky in front of us. The floating block has it’s preferred altitude. The block has it’s preferred speed. I couldn’t do much to maneuver one way or the other. The light in our eyes was also disorienting. We floated toward the light, or was the light surrounding us? I quickly moved my hand to grasp Eloe’s arm above her wrist. We held on to each other, and we held onto the block.

Loee .4

I serve Lukatch

This story is told by Loee.

Talvik’s thought filled my consciousness. I froze in front of him for a moment. Does he desire me? That must be what I’m reading. I bent down to pick up my ves. His hand was there and he picked it up and gave it to me. I whispered, “you are kind, lo Talvik.” He wants to amorig me here at this moment. I realized my mouth was open with surprise.

Talvik smiled, “I am using all of my restraint to help you put your ves back on, vuelessa.”

I gathered my composure and returned his smile as he helped me into my ves and hooked the catch on my shoulder. I said, “I appreciate your restraint lo Talvik. Perhaps after some comida?” I did not want to disclose my thought reading skills, yet.

He offered his arm to me, “I must ask for your kindness, vuelessa. May I invite you to accompany me? I was on my way to mid brightness comida.”

“You are kind, lo Talvik. Will the cafe have a place I can clean the dust from my face?”

“I have been told that the sand room there is well furnished. May I call you Loee?”

We walked to the other side of the square and to a cafe called the ‘Luka’. A vuela met us on the walk and said to Talvik, “she is too beautiful for you, Vik. Sola is surely blinding her.”

The Tesar replied, “I will agree with you, Yayi. I don’t know if Sola is too bright, but she is too beautiful. Probably even for me. This is the vuelessa Loee. She has been sent to serve us here in Lukatch.”

I stopped in front of Yayi and lowered my head to her. She was a serving vuela at the Luka cafe, and I read that it would be wise to befriend her. I smiled at her, “you are too kind, Yayi and lo Talvik is easily impressed.”

Yayi motioned to the table we were standing next to. “Take this table here on the walk, you are wearing the prettiest ves in Lukatch, vuelessa.”

I lowered my head to her again for her kindness. Another vuela came to the table bringing us vinho and breads. Talvik poured our vinho and I asked, “lo Talvik, I have been sent to serve you, but I don’t know what I am supposed to do. I don’t know what the problem is and I certainly don’t know what I am supposed to accomplish.”

At that moment we heard yelling from some distance away. Talvik jumped into the lane, releasing his weapon and running toward the noise. He ran to the corner of the building we were in front of, turned and ran back in front of the cafe and around that corner. I followed to see what was going on, thinking: be careful what you ask for. Several vuelans were huddled at the corner of the building when I ran up to them. There was more screaming. One of the screams sounded as if it came from a young vuela. I heard swish sounds. I thought: Was that Talvik’s weapon? The vuelans I stood with gasped. The screaming that I thought was from a vuela stopped. My group moved out into the lane to get a closer look. I stood on the walk behind them and tried to put together what had happened.

There were two vuelos on the ground in the lane.

Talvik was standing over a body that was not moving. He looked down the lane like there was someone that escaped. The vuela I heard scream was not a vuela but a vuelo. He was dragging himself across the lane. Another vuelo ran up to the vuelo on the lane and aimed his weapon at him. Then, the vuelo lifted his weapon away as the vuelo collapsed on the lane. I went closer to him, he was bleeding heavily. I knelt and checked his pulse at his neck. He was alive, for now.

The vuelo standing over us growled at me, “what are you doing?”

I looked up at him. He held his weapon on me now. I said, “he is alive and will live if he is helped!”

He scowled at me, “let him die! He is Zigene!”

I read from his mind that Zigene had a similar meaning to the English word gypsy. I also read from him that the Zigene were considered to be less than vuelan. I leaned back on my heels, stared into the vuelo’s eyes and said, “then kill him to put him our of his misery.” For the slightest moment he considered killing him. I held my gaze. He backed away, but kept his eyes in mine. When I read that he did not want to kill the vuelo, I ripped the vuelo’s shirt open to see the wound. I was surprised to see that my mind had told me correctly. This was not a vuelo, but a vuela. Talvik’s bullet had ripped through her upper breast and was deflected up her shoulder. The blood loss was substantial, but she could survive. I propped her up on my lap and ripped her shirt to apply pressure to the wound. She had lost consciousness, probably due to the blood loss and shock.

Talvik appeared over me. I looked up at him and begged, “she will live, where can I get her some help?”

Others in the crowd called out, “let the Zigene die!′ “Do not concern yourself with the beast.”

I looked back at Talvik with an expression that implored him to help.

He took charge of the situation, “this is the vuelessa Loee. She is vuel. Vuel will be respected. Bring a cart!”

I held my fingers on the vuela’s neck to track her pulse. It remained strong. A few moments ago I was lost here, wondering what I was supposed to try to accomplish. My commission had now been made as clear as the brightness.

A vuelo from the group of onlookers was not happy that I was aiding this vuela and called out, “the Lukatch guardsman should have killed the Zigene! You should not have interfered.”

I read that some others in the group agreed with this vuelo. I also read smoking rage from Talvik, who asked the vuelo, “what is your name, lo vuelo?”

The vuelo said, “I am Prekint.” Then, warily, he asked, “why do you ask?”

Talvik told the vuelo, “I want to know who is so ignorant of the work of the gods that they would interfere with a vuelessa.”

The vuelo named Prekint looked closely at me now and said to Talvik, “I did not realize she was a vuelessa. I am still concerned, Ranger. Does she know of the strife that the Zigene cause here in Lukatch?”

Talvik was going to tell the vuelo where he could shove his query. I interrupted, “lo Prekint, I am fully aware of the strife. The difficulties with the Zigene are increasing in the Lukatsic villages. There are killings on both sides. Few of these killings have reason. The Zigene are considered less than vuelan.”

At this moment, I read something from Prekint’s memory. I told him, “there are good things, though. Such as a small vuelito that was pulled from a stream once.” I read that Prekint’s vuelito had been rescued by a Zigene vuelo annaros ago. “You, lo vuelo, are aware of that occurrence. That vuelito has now grown up to be a fine young vuelo named Blukint. Is that correct, lo Prekint?”

Prekint could not find his voice. I smiled at him and nodded. He nodded with me and said, “yes, vuelessa. He has grown up.”

Now I had their attention. Another vuelo in the group knew this about Prekint’s vuelito. That vuelo, as well as Prekint were wondering who had told me the story.

Others were arriving at the scene now. The excitement was giving me raw insight into the vuelans of Lukatch. Usually, when reading thoughts in a crowd, individual cohesive thought is difficult to pick up. Every thought you read is random and it makes no sense. This situation, with a vuelo lying dead and a vuela bleeding in the lane, thoughts were more intense. I read: Was the vuelo that was killed a Zigene? Who is the vuela? What were they trying to do? They were robbing someone! These thoughts were clear in my mind. Another thought was clear to me but it made no sense. Someone knew that these Zigenes were robbing someone this brightness. They were concerned that the vuela I was holding was alive. I concentrated to find the name of the vuelan that was thinking these thoughts.

I read: He is thinking the names of the other two Zigenes. He knows those two escaped. He wondered if they got the deen and escaped with it. His name was Gerkert. No, that was the name the Zigenes knew him as. Gerkert was not the name this vuelo uses here in Lukatch. I couldn’t read the name. Why am I not reading his other name?

With Talvik standing here, I was safe. The vuelo, Gerkert, stayed in the back of the group but asked the vuelans gathered if the Zigene vuela was going to live. No one knew this. Without approaching, he called the question out, “is the wounded vuela going to survive?” The vuelo’s bad intent was clear.

I announced to all of the group, “she is dying.”

The wagon was arriving. I turned to Talvik and mouthed the words, help me, to him.

Talvik seemed to understand and helped me lift the limp body into the wagon. I leaned close to him and whispered, “tell them you’re going to try to get information from her before she dies.”

He seemed to understand and said to the gathering, “I will try to find out from her where the accomplices were going and what clan they come from. If there is any breath left in her.”

We rode away in the wagon. There are no hospitals on Vul that I had ever been aware of. I wondered if there were any physicians. Once out of hearing range Talvik asked me, “is she alive?”

I kept my voice down, telling him, “yes, her heart is strong. Her wounds will heal. A vuelo in the crowd wanted her dead. That vuelo is involved in this scheme. She can identity that vuelo for you!”

Talvik nodded without looking at me. He suspected something like this was occurring with the Zigene clans in this region. We reached the other side of the constable’s building and carried the vuela into a holding room within the building. There was such a vuelan that was called a heilur who was called to help. He brought a salty solution to pour into the wound. He had a series of leaves he used to disinfect and dress the wound. He determined that the vuela’s shoulder had only been separated. The heilur pushed it back into place. This woke the vuela out of her unconscious state and she screamed.

The heilur vuelo calmed her and told her she was not to use her right arm for many brightnesses. He used a stretchy cloth to bind under her arm and around her neck. He checked the tension of the binding and told the vuela, “leave this in place for two sixes. Do you understand?” He turned to Talvik and asked, “is she going to be impaled?”

The vuela stared at Talvik with pure dread in her eyes. Talvik said in a low voice to the heilur, “lo Krimlitik, this vuela has already died. Do you understand?”

The heilur, lo Krimlitik, smiled at Talvik. He said, “Talvik, my friend of annaros, I regret that I could not help the vuela.” He assessed me and said to his friend, “another regret that I have is that heilurs do not enjoy the vuelas that rangers and guardsmen enjoy. I should have followed your lead into your profession, my Talvik.”

He turned to leave the room. I reached to touch his arm. He paused as I told him, “you are kind, lo Krimlitik. I am Loee, and I will serve you at your request.”

The vuelo was surprised to hear me say this and did not have a reply.

Talvik quickly added, “this is the vuelessa Loee, lo Krimlitik, and you will never be that fortunate.”

Krimlitik laughed at what his friend told him. He assessed me once again, and said, “seeing the vision you bring is service enough, vuelessa.”

I smiled and lowered my head to him for his kindness. I said, “my service is to those I choose, lo Krimlitik.”

He laughed as he left the room, “If Sola exists for me, someday you will!”.

We turned our attention to the vuela lying on the table. I read her name now that she was awake. She was afraid and wondering what happened to her, brother? I caught Talvik’s eye. He nodded to me to ask her some questions. She was in significant pain and trying to hold her shoulder so her arm would not pull away.

I said to her, “your arm was dislocated from your shoulder but it is back together and you will be alright.” I motioned to her upper breast. “You have a deep cut right here. But it will heal also. “Is Hethio your name?”

The vuela nodded yes. She wondered what was going on. Her eyes sought answers and found Talvik. Fear consumed her and she began to wail.

I put my hands on her to calm her and nodded to Talvik to leave me alone with her in the room. I told her, “you are not in danger here, Hethio.”

She calmed and stopped wailing. I held my hands on her to encourage her to calm down. In a few moments, another name came from her thoughts. Chikek was her brother. Talvik had triggered his spin weapon at both of them. The bullet that hit Chikek was fatal. I nodded no, to her.

Her eyes widened. She repeated, “Chikek?”

I nodded no, again, I said, “Chikek was killed. Was he your brother?”

Hethio’s head dropped back down on the table. She cried.

I said softly to her, “I regret.” I waited. She wanted to tell me about her brother but she was afraid to say anything. She was crying and shaking her head back and forth. I waited.

Moments later she opened up. “They will impale me, they will impale me.” This was all she would say. Behind the words, though, an intricate story was coming to me from her thoughts. She also had a family. She has an amoro? Yes. She has an amoro. Was her amoro involved? Yes. He must have escaped. I wondered what else was occurring in Lukatch and the Lukatsic villages. I read enough from this vuela to know there were many strange alliances between vuelan groups. Talvik was near. He already told his heilur friend to consider this vuela dead. Her death would be reported officially. He was already suspicious of the relationships between certain Lukatsic vuelans and the troublesome Zigene clans. I searched Hethio’s mind for a way to obtain her cooperation. She did not want to die on the impaling spear. That was definitely the strongest thought coming from her.

I looked at her calmly, “you do not have to die, Hethio.”

She was instantly suspicious of me. She told me, “you will kill me before I tell you anything!” Hate filled her words. She was protecting her clan. She was determined to die before she gave information about her clan.

I nodded calmly. “I will not ask for information about your clan or your family or.” I paused and found her eyes, “or your amoro.”

She thought her amoro’s name: Chelcht. I stored the name for future reference. “I know about Gerkert. He is not of your clan. I want you to tell me about the things that Gerkert is doing. Can you do that?”

Hethio was completely suspicious, but nodded yes.

I called to Talvik through the door. He came in and said nothing, waiting for me to tell him what happened. I looked over at Hethio as I said, “she gave me some names that we know. The vuelo that died on the lane was her brother, Chikek. There is another vuelo that is known here in Lukatch. She and her clan know him as Gerkert.”

Talvik said, “I know of no one called Gerkert.”

“I think he was in the group of onlookers in the lane, but he stayed out of my sight.”

Talvik had a question in his mind that he did not want to ask. He looked at Hethio. “Vuela, can you walk?”

She nodded yes.

Talvik said to me, “it will be dim soon. We have already said that the vuela we brought in died. No one will be looking for her to leave here.” He then said to Hethia, “you will stay alive as long as you please this vuelessa. If you try to run we will kill you and we will use the information we have derived from you to kill your entire clan. Do you understand?”

Hethio believed what Talvik told her. I believed what he said to her! Talvik then snapped an ankle bracelet on the vuela that was corded to the wall in the room. He got her attention again and said, “if it appears that you have pulled at this anklet, I will cord your ankles together so that you must drag yourself on the floor to move around. Do you understand?”

Hethio nodded yes. I read that she had no intention of trying to escape. There was something else about her thought. It involved what might happen if she returned to her clan. The clan would never trust her after she was taken by the vuelans of Lukatch. She was now at risk of being killed by her own clan if she returned.

Talvik opened the door and nodded to me to come with him. We left the vuela corded to the wall in the holding room. He said to me as we left, “we have some vinho waiting for us, remember?”

At the cafe, Yayi had held our table. Talvik did not speak on the way here. He was not thinking about anything that I could read, either. The stress of the previous couple of periods was affecting both of us. We took long sips of our vinho. Still, we said nothing to each other. I began to read the replay of the shooting of the vuelos that turned out to be a vuelo and vuela. His memory was clear on the occurrence. His mind replayed the movements to check for detail that he may have missed. The vuelo ran at him with his weapon. There was no alternative to triggering his spin weapon at close range. His second shot was meant to wound. No, his second shot was meant to wound because his weapon could only trigger a bullet with part of the force of the first shot. The incident had taken place exactly as he intended. The following vuelo that was actually a vuela was alive and would likely survive her wound. Talvik needed solace for his thoughts. I gave him his solace. I looked at the early dim clouds in the sky and thought to myself: Vul can be beautiful and serene. In that beauty there are problems within vuel. Hmm, now that I understand what the problem could be, what am I supposed to do help? My attention trailed back to Talvik.

He was looking at me. I read his thought: Can you tell what I am thinking as if I am speaking the words? I gave a slight smile and lowered my eyes and raised them again. I nodded yes.

Talvik said, “I have been told that some vuelessas are able to read minds.” Then he thought: I did not need to say that, did I?

I nodded, and said, “you did not, I read it before you could say it.”

He stared at me a moment. My thoughts of you when we met.

I stopped him, “you flattered me, lo vuelo! I was complimented by those thoughts.”

Talvik surprised me with his thought: I meant it. I am never going to let you get away from me.

Talvik’s thought echoed in my brain. I was unable to respond for a moment, but gathered all of my composure and said, “lo Talvik, I have responsibilities here. So do you.”

He took a drink of his vinho, thinking: Yes, we do, and if you read minds this well. You just became unbelievably valuable.

We ate dim comida instead of the mid brightness comida for which we had originally come to this cafe. Talvik did not ask anything else regarding the events of the brightness. We discussed how we had come to be here in Lukatch, doing what we are doing. Talvik grew up in the region and joined the Tesar Rangers in Centium. He was stationed here where he knew the background of the vuel.

I was concerned about the vuela, Hethio. I had to ask, “what are we going to do with Hethio?”

Talvik took the last bite of his comida followed by a long sip of vinho, and thought: We need to take her something to eat, don’t you think?

I nodded slowly, I read that his intention was not only to feed her.

He smiled, thinking: Yes, my vuelessa, I will put something in the comida that will cause her to become completely manageable.

In the holding room, Hethio was sitting up, in obvious pain with her shoulder and the wound in her flesh. I unfolded the leaf with the food we had brought her from the cafe. I said calmly, “eat this comida, vuela, it will help you heal.” I didn’t think she would eat, but she took the leaf into her lap and picked up the food with her fingers and ate it hungrily.

Talvik and I looked at each other. He thought: She is starving, isn’t she?

I nodded to him. I read her thought that this was the most food she has eaten in many sixes. Soon the drops of concentrated vinho Talvik had put into the vuela’s food had it’s effect.

I read his plan, “you’re putting her in a sack and carrying her out like baggage?”

He said, “a vuelessa such as yourself would be expected to have baggage.”

“We are telling everyone that she died. How are you going to.”

His thought interrupted: Leave that to me.

I read from him that the message would be spread that the vuela’s body was disposed of in the dim. I said, “I understand. I ask you kindness for wondering.”

I followed him with my bags to the Jener house. This served as a hotel as well as a house of diversion for Lukatch. There was another diversion house here. Lukatch also had a large bordo. The bordo in Lukatch provided serving vuelas as well as slavuelas for the pleasure of vuelos. I learned all of this from Talvik’s memory as we walked to the Jener house. The word jener carried the meaning of serving vuela. There were serving vuelas in the Jener House. The large building that we had been in which housed the constable and the council offices was called the Forsamling house. Some of the words used here sounded Scandinavian to me. I also noticed that the vuelans here were more blond and lighter skinned than the usual mix of vuelans would be.

Talvik called to the House manager when we walked in, “this is the vuelessa we have been expecting. She is the vuelessa Loee.”

I nodded deeply to the manager. He acknowledged me.

Talvik added, “she will be staying in the reserved room.”

The manager called as we went on, “Sola has brightened for your arrival, vuelessa.”

I stopped and turned, “you are kind to say so.” Then, I hurried up the ramp after Talvik.

Talvik sent his thought: Did he believe your things were in this bag?

I waited until we were on the second level. I told him, “not completely. He understood that he was not to be too curious about what we were doing. Is he a friend?”

Talvik thought: That is Durkilin. He knows everyone and everyone’s business in Lukatch. We stopped at a door and he pushed into the room. I read that this was where I would be living. The room was small, but clean. Talvik set the bag with Hethio in it on the bed but did not open it. I asked, “are we letting her out?”

His thought answered: She is sleeping. Durkilin will send a vuela with vinho and water. We will let her see the same closed bag that he saw.

He was correct, in a moment a serving vuela knocked on the door. He let her in and she set the vinho and water on the table with some salted breads. She turned to me, lowered her head and said, “vuelessa, the sand is behind the panel. Be kind to inform us of your needs.”

I lowered my head to her, “you are kind, vuela.”

She looked at Talvik, they smiled at each other. She wanted to tell him that she wished he was going to amorig with her! The little slut!

Talvik laughed when she left the room, thinking: I’m sure you read what she wanted to tell me.

“That is a possessive little vuela. Is she one of your many amoras?”

Talvik thought: That held her attention instead of thinking about what was in the bag. He opened the bag and Hethio unfolded onto the bed.

“Is she alright?”

He thought to me: She is sleeping. Can you read her mind while she is sleeping?

“No. I could pick up a dream, possibly. There would be no way to know if the dream was true or not.”

Talvik was thinking ahead of my answer. He asked with thought: What did you read on the lane?

“There was a vuelo in the back of the group of onlookers. He thought of the names of the other two Zigenes. The two who escaped. This vuelo wondered if they got the deen and escaped with it. He is known to the Zigenes as Gerkert. Gerkert is not the name this vuelo is known by here in Lukatch. I was unable to read the name he uses here in Lukatch.”

Talvik thought: The Zigenes robbed two vuelos leaving the Lukatsic count house. There is someone that knew the vuelos would be leaving a count house with a large amount of deen and told the Zigenes where to be so that they could rob them. Is that what you read?


Talvik’s thought continued: I knew that the Zigene gangs could not be as lucky as they seemed to be. They always attack and rob vuelans that have available deen.

“How long have they been, as you describe, lucky?”

Talvik almost spoke, caught himself and thought: It has been several rotations now. Can this vuela identify the vuelo she knows as Gerkert? ?

I considered this for a moment, “probably not. She has never seen his face.”

Talvik thought of a word having to do with the refuse of a herd of zebry.

I smiled at him.

He said, “I do not understand.” wondering why I was smiling.

“Lo Gerkert will identify himself if he sees Hethio.”

Talvik smirked, thinking: She is supposed to be dead. I cannot bring vuelos in to the Forsamling for her to identify. Then he looked at me with narrow eyes as I continued to smile.

He asked, “What is it that I do not understand.”

I studied the vuela Hethio for a moment. Her brown hair becoming blond would probably do the trick all by itself. “Lo Talvik, this vuela can be made to look completely different.
She could be taken out among the vuelans in Lukatch. The problem will be with her cooperation.”

Talvik gave this some thought: The Zigene often do not accept members back into the clan after they have been held in Lukatch. They are distrustful. They shun the clan member, who often is forced to leave the clan. They have also been known to kill returning clan members. This behavior has made any reconciliation with the Zigene clan impossible. The vuela’s cooperation will depend on her perception of her future.

The more I learned about the Zigene clan the more problematic everything became. I asked Talvik, “how did this extreme distrust develop between the Zigene and the Lukatsic vuelans? Does anyone know?”

He shook his head no and thought: It has always been this way. Recently, contacts between the Lukatsic and the Zigene have become deadly.

When Talvik said this, a thought occurred to me. I asked, “the vuelo that was killed this brightness, what will be done with the body?”

Talvik thought: In these cases, bodies are offered to the family. In this particular case, the Zigene family will not claim the body. That means it will be disposed of.

I began to think of something completely speculative. This Zigene vuela, Hethio, has an amoro. His name is Chelcht. Could they be a conduit to cooperative existence between the Lukatsic and the Zigene? Stranger things have happened, I told myself.

“Talvik, I want to talk to Hethio when she wakes up. With your approval, I want to discuss Zigene vuel with her.

Talvik thought: It will be several periods before she wakes. You should not sleep in this room. We do not know what her reaction will be when she awakens.

“Do you know of a secure room for me to sleep in, lo Talvik?”

His thought was clear: It will be my pleasure to provide such a room for you, vuelessa.

There were two doors between this room and the room he used as his apartment. This was the usual arrangement for adjoining rooms on Vul, similar to how adjoining rooms in any Earth hotel. I followed him into his apartment. It was much larger with two rooms and a separated bedroom and separated sand room. I walked into his apartment thinking that vuel was so different from life on Earth. In vuel, I was glad and relieved that he had invited me to sleep with him in his bedroom.

Talvik’s thoughts were of other things at this moment. He was replaying the details about the vuelo he killed. The vuelo and what appeared to be a second vuelo were running toward him. The accomplices ran the other direction. Was this their plan? Was this vuelo and his sister meant to be decoys? The vuelan they called Gerkert, who is this? The vuelen who were robbed when they left the count house were selected. Who knew of their transaction? The vuela probably does not know who this Gerkert is. She probably does not know the details of the robbery, either.

Talvik went to the window. I read that he was checking the period of the dim, He thought of a vuelo named Brachad. “Loee, have some vinho, and there are breads and fruits that you may enjoy.” He stopped, remembering that he did not need to speak and sent me the thought: I am going to find Durkilin to see what he can tell me about the events of this brightness.

I nodded to him, “Sola be with you.” He latched the door from the outside when he left. He had latched the adjoining door. I was safely locked inside. I relaxed and accepted his invitation, pouring myself some of his vinho. The covered shelf had some salted breads that I put in a bowl to nibble on with the chalice of vinho I poured.

Talvik’s thoughts were intense. I continued to read his thought as if he were sitting next to me. The robbery details were unsettled in his mind. He knew what he saw and what he saw did not make sense. The vuela involved was a further complication for him. Why did the Zigenes allow her to be involved? The vuelessa, she makes Sola look ordinary. Why did she arrive on this brightness? Vuel itself flows through her. She read my attraction to her and she was flattered! She will come to realize that my desire is sincere.

His thought made me realize that he is not simply infatuated with me! I stared into my chalice of vinho and concentrated on Talvik’s thought. The joining of my and Talvik’s mind was the most explicit I had yet experienced. Durkilin would be joining him soon.

My mind was unwinding from the events of the brightness and I realized I needed to cleanse myself of the dirt I had gathered. I walked to the sand area of Talvik’s rooms. Cleansing leaves were in abundance. There was also a selection of loe stems and smoothing stones. His sand room was well equipped for a vuelo. Equipped also for the needs of a vuela. I pulled my ves off and used some cleansing leaves. My ves had the vuela’s blood stains on it that I had not been aware of until now. There are leaves that remove such stains. I wondered if Talvik kept such leaves on hand. In his line of work, I thought he may keep those kinds of leaves. I cleaned my skin with the leaves I recognized. Removing the dirt from my skin felt wonderful. Smoothing stones helped smooth my feet and legs. There are stones that efficiently remove hair anywhere it appears. Hair was removed much more easily than it used to be on Earth. That coating that was on my skin surely caused the hairs to be slighter and easier to remove, I thought.

Moments later, Durkilin met Talvik and I began to read what Durkilin was saying by reading him through Talvik’s mind. They were discussing robberies that had taken place over the last few sixes. Durkilin agreed with Talvik that the hijackers were more than fortunate to be encountering vuelans that were carrying large amounts of deen. Durkilin said he thought it was more than strange. Talvik asked him if he knew of someone with a name that sounded like Gerkert.

I read Durkilin’s thought which he did not speak: He cannot be speaking of Kerg. That doesn’t sound at all like Gerkert.

I recognized the name Kerg as the name used by the vuelo calling himself Gerkert. This was the true name that the vuela did not know. This name was probably from the vuela’s memory. I had not pulled the name up when I was reading her earlier. Durkilin did know everyone. He knew Kerg, though he did not suspect him of any wrongdoing.

I finished cleansing myself and returned to the table. The conversation between Talvik and Durkilin became random and difficult to read. I sipped the vinho. Talvik had wonderful vinho on hand. Most of the vinho that I had been served on Vul had been rich and flavorful. This vinho was no exception. I sat back after taking a sip. I was relaxed more now. Soon, I read that Talvik was returning, and his thoughts were of me. Specifically, his thoughts were of amorig with me. He wondered if we would amorig well. I had not put anything on after cleansing myself. Talvik was wondering if I had gone to sleep. He was not going to feel bad if I had, considering what I had experienced in Lukatch during my first brightness here.

Talvik was on the second level now. I got up and went to the door. The door became unlatched. Talvik is a Tesar Ranger. He sees many things. He had seen me present myself with my ves on the ground at my feet only periods ago. He opened the door to see what he desired. What he saw was not what he expected. I surprised both of us when I grabbed his lapel and pulled him into the room. Our lips mated. I felt his hands under my bottom. My arms and legs had wrapped around him as he carried me toward his bed. Our lips had not lost contact when I felt his penetration. My vagina was far too slippery to offer any viable constriction. We collided with each other lustfully until, breathing quickly, he separated far enough so that our eyes met. More than our eyes, our minds were harmonious. I could read that he felt our harmony. I wondered how this happened? Had I discovered a deep meaning within vuel? My desire was deeper than for simple amorig.

I breathed, “I will be yours forever.” I heard myself say this and I read his mind accept it as what he wanted to hear. I also realized that I did not know the full meaning of it. This is vuel, I thought to myself, and I am fully involved.

The wagon left before the next brightness with the body of the dead Zigene vuelo and his sister, Hethio. The driver was told to drop her and the body two horizons away at the road that leads into the Mazo forest. Sitting next to the driver was the new vuelessa that had arrived in Lukatch village in the previous brightness. That vuelessa was me. Talvik and I were in agreement on our plan, though he was not comfortable with the part in which I went to the Zigene clan with a body of one of their vuelos.

“You know that I represent vuel. Your own mind tells you that vuel flows through me. We both know why I was sent here. Vuel brought us together at this brightness to take advantage of this opportunity.”

Talvik was leery of the plan. He thought: All of that is true. Yet, the circumstances of the past brightness could be unrelated to your commission.

I smiled. I remembered the vuelo’s name that Talvik was trying to get from Durkilin. I told him, “you were asking Durkilin who Gerkert was last dim.”

He nodded.

“The name he thought could not possibly be that name was Kerg. That name was also in the swirl of information I read from the crowd of onlookers. Gerkert is the name that Kerg uses with the Zigenes that he recruits and corrupts.”

Talvik stared at me. “How did you.” He stopped and thought: You are sure of this name?

I spoke softly, “Find Kerg in the dim. Call him Gerkert, and he will reveal himself.”

The wagon driver said little as we rolled toward the first horizon. Mazo, as the Lukatsic vuelans call the area, is where the Zigene vuelans live. There was no one else on the road this early in the brightness. I didn’t need the ability to read thought to know the driver did not want to be transporting the dead body of a Zigene and a Zigene vuela. I had lowered my head to him and said, “lo vuelo, you are kind to provide service to vuel.”

He had grumbled his response. The grumble was not loud, I noted. I climbed to the bench to sit next to him and read that he decided there was an up side to this job. This was important. I read from Hethio that her father would want his son’s body so he could carry out the ritual of death for the Zigene clan.

I saw the horizon change and the forests become thicker. I asked the driver, “do the forests continue this thick until we reach the Mazo forest road?”

The driver, who called himself Brudge, nodded and grumbled, “trees could fill the road up ahead.”

I could not tell what he meant by what he said and asked, “will there be a village where the Mazo road intersects?”

Brudge was annoyed. He grumbled, “not one you would recognize.” Then he said, “you are a pleasant vuela. Are all vuelessas like you?”

I could read that Brudge had become more tolerant of me. “You are kind, lo vuelo. I’m sure that most vuelessas are similar. Most vuelessas would also find you to be pleasant, lo vuelo, as I have.” I was stretching the definition of pleasant in describing Brudge.

There was a clearing at the intersection. I had wondered why Brudge would not agree to take us on his cart into the forest. I did not see the Mazo road leaving from this clearing. Now I understood why. I was able to procure a vehicle with one wheel that Hethio and I could walk with. I also hired a vuelo to guide us who had a kuchir. The kuchir is a serious knife and hatchet weapon that is in the shape of an L. We put Hethio’s brother’s body in the wheelbarrow and began to follow the guide into the forest.

The Mazo road did become a road in places. It twisted and turned sharply which prevented from seeing more than a few measures ahead. I asked Hethio, “do you know this road.”

Hethio nodded. I read that she was apprehensive. She feared what her father and her clan would do to her. Zigene clans will disown members who have brought dishonor or failure to the clan. I had already read from Hethio that Zigene clan members who had been taken or held by the Lukatsic vuelans would be shunned and possibly killed. Her thoughts about her future were clear: I have a duty to return with my brother. Where is Chelcht? Is he alright? Will I see him? Is he looking for me? What would happen if I am shunned by the clan? Would they kill me? Would my father allow them to kill me?

After a period or so on the Mazo road a bird call echoed through the forest. The call was not from any bird. A Zigene scout was calling to the lookouts to warn of an intruder. Our guide continued to lead us forward, though he was now looking up into the trees. He heard the call and knew what it meant. I read more calls from the thoughts of a scout that was nearby in the thicket. He informed his lookouts that we were not dangerous and we were two vuelas pulling a wheelbarrow. I wondered how much further we would be aloud to proceed.

Soon, another call came from much closer. It was an instruction of how much further to come. Our guide stopped us in a small clearing. He turned and said, “they will meet you here. I will go back two turns on the road and wait for you there.”

I said to him, “you are kind.”

Hethio was afraid now. She scanned the thicket, knowing someone from the clan would appear. I read three or four vuelos approaching. Hethio knelt before they appeared.

I put down the handle of the wheelbarrow to present myself to them. I couldn’t see anyone but I could read that they could see me. One of them knew who Hethio was. I knelt and put my face to the ground. My ves fell away as I placed my foot firmly in front of me. I stood slowly, stroking my hands along my body. My audience did not show themselves but I had their attention. I called out to them, “I am the vuelessa Loee. I will serve you.”

My pronouncement brought them into the clearing. Three vuelos who wore the usual shirts and pantos that vuelos wear along with the usual weapons. These Zigenes were not savages. They were not integrated into vuel either. They were pleased enough, however, to assess me. I read no ill intent from them toward me. The vuelo on my right was young and aggressive. He was not the leader, though. The vuelo in the middle, known as Marntet was in charge. There was a fourth Zigene still hidden farther away in the thickets that was not showing himself.

The Zigene vuelen were enjoying my beauty. I moved slightly to allow them all the pleasure they wanted. Marntet’s eyes at last came to mine and I said, “lo Marntet, I am the vuelessa Loee. I bring your clan the vuela Hethio and the body of her brother, Chikek, who was killed during a robbery in Lukatch village.”

I paused a moment to make sure they understood me. I read that Marntet was suspicious of why I was here. He said to me, “you are not Lukatsic?”

I stared into his eyes as I told him, “no. I am vuel. I am Zigene and I am Lukatsic and I am neither Lukatsic nor Zigene. I am a vuelessa. I serve all of vuel. I serve you, Marntet.” By now I had read all of their names. I looked into each of their faces to say, “I also serve your vuelos, Telchen and Pluked.” They all were wondering how I knew their names.

I pressed my business with them by telling them, “I bring you the body of a clan vuelo so that Zigene ritual may be carried out. I am doing this is due to the courage shown by this Zigene vuela. Hethio knows the danger she is putting herself in by returning to the clan, yet she has come to deliver her brother to his father.”

Marntet motioned to his vuelo Telchen to check the body wrapped in the cloth on the wheelbarrow. He was now wondering if I was real or some kind of vision. I held his gaze while Telchen confirmed that the body was that of Chikek. Marntet now looked at Hethio. I read that he recognized her. He looked back at me and asked, “I have been told of vuelessas. Are you real, or only a vision?”

This was a strange question. I searched Marntet’s thought to determine his meaning. He was unsure that my beauty was real. This made me wonder. Hethio, by comparison, was not ugly, though she was plain in appearance. Marntet had never seen a vuelessa. His question was honest, so I stepped closer and held my palms out to him, “I am real, lo Marntet.”

The younger vuelo, Pluked, leered lustfully at me. He wanted to amorig me forcefully. He imagined himself causing me to moan and beg for more of his penetration. I looked into his eyes and smiled. My tongue parted my teeth and touched my upper lip. My knee turned out slightly. He could not resist wanting me. He glanced at Marntet, telling him, “I will tell you if she is real!” His arousal was obvious. Marntet did not dissuade the young vuelo from his determination.

I quickly backed away from Pluked as he came toward me. I was reading his thought precisely. He understood my retreat as submission and fear. My retreat was not fear, but strategic. He intended to slap me across my face to subjugate me before he penetrated me. I knelt over my ves with my knees wide as he opened his pantos. His released penis was fully erect and he was anxious. I sat back and held my hands up to him as my submissive invitation. Pluked went to his knees to position himself. I had leaned back, spreading my legs wide. He once again leered at me and leaned toward me, lifting his arm to slap me. I knew exactly when this was coming and dropped back to the ground making his strike miss. I grabbed his arm making him lose his balance. We were now face to face. Now I smiled up at him and told him, “amorig me lo vuelo!”

During his attempt at dominance I stroked my labia to bring moisture so his penis would slide easily. Grasping his penis, I looked at him excitedly, “push into me now vuelo!”

With my guidance he pushed into me with his full length. My mouth opened as I tilted my head back, feeling his girth inside me. I let him stroke a couple of times and then grasped his thrust with all the muscle in my pelvis. His panicked thought was clear to me as he almost ejaculated. I pulled his neck to me and whispered into his ear, “learn from me, young vuelo.” I relaxed to let him thrust a few more times. I read that he was grateful that he did not ejaculate so quickly. He was dominating me now.

This was the thought I was expecting, and waiting for. I grasped his next thrust, bringing him into the beginnings of orgasm. Pluked had intended to make me squirm under him so that he could force his mouth onto mine to complete his dominance. Grabbing and pulling him toward me, I bessed his mouth firmly. He was surprised that it was his mouth covered by mine as he lost control and gave in to his orgasm. I heard and read a serious groan. Pluked relaxed and lifted from me. The sneer was gone. It was replaced with surprise of what he had experienced. I grabbed his collar, smiling sweetly, and whispered my question to him, “will you remember me, lo Pluked?”

Pluked’s expression was of wonder, mixed with a question. He backed away and stood up. Then backed toward Marntet, keeping his eyes on me. I rolled off of my ves and picked it up, shook it out and stood up to put it on. Without looking at them I read that Marntet told Pluked that he should leave his penis with me, since I had taken control of it from him.

Marntet waited for me to turn around and said, “you are what I have been told a vuelessa is. Why did you come here? The vuelans of Lukatch could have simply sent this body to us. They have done such before.”

I had created my opportunity. I announced to them, “there is poison in the vuel between the Lukatsic and the Zigene. That poison must be removed, I have come to remove it.”

Marntet narrowed his eyes. He did have influence in the clan. I read that his recommendation was important in the clan. He considered what I said. I read his thoughts of my offer. He knew there were opportunities with the Lukatsic vuelans that he would welcome. I could read some detail of these things. Moments later, he said, “we will take the body. We will not kill the vuela for trying to return. Leave this forest now and you may leave unharmed.”

Telchen and Pluked came and took Chikek’s body from the wheelbarrow. I picked up the handles to the wheelbarrow to leave, motioning to Hethio to come with me. Marntet rejected my attempt to improve vuel between the Zigene and Lukatsic. Hethio scrambled to her feet and took one handle of the wheelbarrow. She was rejected, but she would live.

At the first turn in the road I looked back toward the clearing where we had been. The three Zigene vuelen that we met there were gone. The fourth Zigene that had never revealed himself was in the thicket near us. Hethio and I continued on the trail and the Zigene vuelo followed us, unseen. We reached the second turn. Our guide would be a few lengths beyond this turn. I stopped. The stalking Zigene revealed himself to us in our path. Now I read this Zigene’s name. I had read this name before.

Hethio looked up, startled. She ran to her amoro as she called out, “Chelcht!”

Rentz and Era .2

There are those who should be killed, and I will kill them

This story is told by Renzt

We rolled into Refurio, continuing through the city to the Trader House. I remembered that I had seen a heilur there during one of my visits. Era rode in the wagon bed with Pargont. I looked back into the wagon several times. Each time, Era would look up at me and nod that Pargont was alright. She held him on her lap to keep his head and neck as still as possible while riding in the back of a wagon on an unpaved road.

Pargont was doing well for having an arrow through his neck. Era and I helped Pargont into the Trader House and paid for a room and the services of a heilur. We drew attention, helping a vuelo with an arrow through his neck. We helped him into the room, which was furnished differently from the usual house room. The bed was higher. The window allowed plenty of sola into the room. There were more water jugs. Leaves of all kinds were in abundance. I said to Era, “this room must be used for this purpose often.”

She nodded. She looked into Pargont’s eyes and asked him, “can you swallow some vinho?”

Pargont moved his head slightly. I poured some vin and held it for him to take a sip. Pargont winced as he swallowed.

I asked, “how does that feel? The question was for Pargont but I looked at Era for an answer. She was reading his thought and acting like a monitor for what he was feeling.

She nodded to me, telling me, “it feels normal. I don’t think the throat is involved.”

I looked closely at the arrow. The shaft seemed to have a texture in the surface. I wondered if the texture carried some kind of poisons. Era looked at me and nodded that she understood what I was thinking. I gave Pargont some more vinho and some water.

The heilur knocked on the door and came in at our invitation. She wore a ves with a full apron and carried a bag, telling us, “I am la vuela Evela.”

Her full attention went to Pargont. She asked, “when did this happen?” She leaned down to inspect the wound and carefully sniffed the arrow. “This must be removed immediately.” She took a stem from her bag and coated the arrow, and cut off the feathering. She said loudly, “hold still.” She pushed her fingers into his nose, then released and quickly pulled the arrow thought the wound.

She said, “the stem fluid is a germicide. The wound will turn red and slowly return to normal over the next few brightnesses.”

She used the English word for germicide. I asked her, “where were you trained?”

She simply said, “Galveston.”

I glanced at Era. She recognized the name Galveston, as a place on Earth where there is a medical school. I thought to Era: We should not discuss this now. Be kind to stay here while I tend to the team and the wagon.

I returned to my wagon, which I left in the care of the Trader House custodian. The wagon appeared to be carrying a load of Cadizan vinho. I didn’t think it would attract attention and it did not, however the blood stain on the cases of vinho did attract attention. The description of our guard being taken into the Trader House with an arrow through his neck had also spread. There were several vuelen standing by the wagon discussing the occurrence when I walked up.

One of them asked, “this is your wagon, lo vuelo?”

“Yes. I ask your kindness for leaving it in the lane.” I pretended that I had simply been in a hurry. Then I saw the stains on the vinho cases.

Another vuelo asked, “you carried in an armed vuelo with an arrow through his neck?”

I knew I would have tell what happened. “Yes. We were attacked by a clan from the Pua.”

Now they were all interested. Another asked, “where were you. How many Pua attacked you?”

I looked at them all and said, “the attackers were led by a new clan leader named Zed. Suradad brought Zed with him to meet me on my trip to the Cadiz a couple of sixes ago. I gave him a bottle of vinho. Zed was waiting for me on the way back.”

A vuelo asked, “how many of them?”

I thought for a moment. I shook my head, saying, “fifteen. Plus a couple up ahead of us that ran off.”

The vuelo that had asked how many asked, “did you kill any of them?”

I didn’t understand this question at first. I looked at the vuelo and then the rest of them and said, “we killed all of them.”

That vuelen looked at my spin weapon. One vuelo asked, “your weapon lo vuelo. How many shots can you trigger?”

This was not information I wished to make public. I considered not telling them, but they would do the math and come to a conclusion that could be worse. I told them, “seven shots, then a half wind and it will trigger another five. Then I must fully wind to begin another seven.”

The vuelen looked at each other. The vuelo that had been asking most of the questions asked me, “that is the workmanship of Pagalund. He is back in production?”

I saw no reason to withhold this information, but I wanted to know who I was talking with. I said, “I am Renzt. My cargoes cross the Pua thickets, as you can tell. That is why I know of Pagalund’s weaponry. Yes, his shop is in full operation. I have been there, though I would not attempt to go there without guidance from a Cadizan guide.”

The vuelo told me his name, “I am Brelek, Pag is a friend of many annaros. I heard he was alright after the house in Refurio was destroyed by the gods. It is good to know he has rebuilt his shop. Did you meet Pagalund?”

Brelek was concerned for his friend. “Yes. I did. He demonstrated this weapon for me personally. He is proud of how well it triggers.

Another of the vuelen asked me, “did you say it fires seven shots and then five?”

I told him, “yes. It fires seven quickly and then you must wind once to fire the next five. A full rewind is required to bring another seven shots into the magazine to trigger.”

Another of the vuelen said, “I will pay you whatever deen you want for your weapon.”

“I ask your kindness, I do not own this weapon. It is mine to use only with the wagon cargoes.”

One of the vuelen said to no one in particular, “there is more than vinho in that wagon.”

I did not want to discuss this topic and luckily, the heilur came out of the door of the Trader House at that moment. I turned my attention to her, “la Evela, how is lo Pargont?”

She stopped in front of me, pausing to look at the group of vuelen so that they would understand that she would speak to me and not to the group. We stepped away together. She then said, “Pargont is well. The vuelessa Era is invaluable to his treatment. With her ability to read his thought, I am sure that he will recover easily.”

I had no idea what a heilur is paid in vuel. I asked her, “I will pay you for your care. How much deen will it be?”

She surprised me with the amount, telling me, “it is two blue for this brightness. I will have to see him again in the next few brightnesses.”

I told her, “I will pay you two pink to cover all of the care.” I took out my pouch to get the crystals for the heilur.”

She refused my payment, “that is too much, lo Renzt. I only charge one blue for follow ups. Nine blue will be more than adequate.”

I put the pink crystals in her hand. “You are worth at least as much as a serving vuela.”

She lowered her head to me, unnecessarily, “you are kind. Perhaps we can meet some dim and speak of, Galveston.”

I smiled at her, “perhaps.” She had recognized me as being from the faraway lands, as she was.

She looked toward the group of vuelen and called, “lo Chuzak, you are looking well.” The vuelo was apparently one of the heilur’s recent patients.

He answered, “yes! You brought Sola herself with you to serve me!”

The heilur nodded and acknowledged his reference, “Sola was kind to both of us!”

Chuzak asked on behalf of the group of vuelen, “will the armed vuelo recover?”

She smiled to them, “he is in the care of the vuelessa that defended him. He will be fine.”

I did not fully understand this. The vuelen did not either. Chuzak asked her, “the vuelessa? A vuelessa triggered his weapon?”

The heilur, Evela, saw my expression and realized that I did not know this either. She continued her comments, “the armed vuelo described this to me when he calmed. He said that he only fired into the thicket before he was hit in the neck. The vuelessa told me that she picked up his weapon and triggered the shots, killing the Puans.”

I remembered that I turned to see Era holding the spin weapon, ready to fire. Pargont was down in the wagon. I did not realize that she had triggered it to kill the Puans instead of Pargont.

The vuelen and the heilur noticed my amazement. Chuzak said to me, “teamster, how did you find yourself an armed vuelessa?”

I began to laugh at this development. “I will let you know as soon as I find out!”

I drove the wagon to the Rio Coin to unload the Cadizan vinho, then on to the Refurio terminal near the river docks. In an enclosed terminal, I was met by a vuelo that unloaded the weapons from Pagalund’s works. Weapons were unloaded by trusted vuelen and only out of public view.

Chipint, the vuelo that unloaded the weapons asked me about the incident with the Pua. The story of the Pua killing vuelessa had already circulated around the city. I was surprised that the story had spread this fast. I asked him, “lo Chipint, that only became known a period ago. How is it that you have heard the tale already?”

Chipint laughed, “everyone in Refurio has heard the tale by now!”

I thought to Era: You are a famous vuelessa now, though you may not be happy about why you are famous. I had the feeling that she received my thought clearly.

That dim, Era and I left the Trader House to have our comida at the Rio Coin. I hired a serving vuela to stay in the room with Pargont this dim. Era said that the heilur wanted him watched for any signs of poisoning that could have been on the arrow. I thought to her: I saw her sniff the arrow before she handled it, did you read from her that it could be poisoned ?

Era spoke softly to me, so that others would have difficulty hearing her, “yes, she said the Pua are known to use poisoned arrows when they mean harm. Though she did not smell any kind of poison on the arrow in Pargont’s neck.”

I thought to her: The serving vuela watching Pargont, is she watching for a reaction to poison?

Era nodded, “yes she is. You were correct that the incident is known by everyone. I am reading thoughts about it from vuelans around the dining area. Some of them have concluded that we must be the vuelans that were involved since we are carrying our weapons. It will not be long until some of them come up to us to ask about it.”

Era was correct. We finished eating and a couple came to our table. They asked, “would you be kind enough to tell us if you were those who were attacked by the Pua early this brightness?”

I saw no way to say otherwise and told them, “yes. We were those who were attacked. It is our guard that was injured in the attack.” I tried to steer the conversation in that direction.

The couple was now being joined by others from the tables. They asked, “the story that you killed all of the Pua that attacked. Is that true?”

Era deferred to me. I told them, “yes. We triggered on them because they were determined in their attack.”

The vuelo that was asking the questions seemed to check with the others and asked, “can you say how many Pua were in the attack?”

Era and I looked at each other. I thought we should tell them. She read my thought and nodded her agreement.

I announced the number for all of them to hear, “there were sixteen in all and we killed thirteen of them. The other three ran away.”

One of the vuelos in the group spoke to another, “Krintid, that new weapon you said Pagalund was building must have become reality.”

The vuelo called Krintid spoke to me, “you are the teamster that hauls Pagalund’s weapons. You must have been using the new weapons. That is why you are alive this dim. ”

Era smiled at Krintid’s presumption, knowing how valuable her warning of the attack had been. I, however, agreed with Krintid, “we are certain of that.”

Krintid asked, “would you be kind to show me your weapon?”

I did so while describing, for them all, “a full wind can trigger seven shots. Then a single wind can trigger five more. The full twelve shots are unexpected by Puan attackers. There was one attacker who experienced the triggering and was able to run away. He may be able to warn the others of the danger they are in by attacking in the future.”

There was an immediate discussion of the new danger that the Pua might bring to the vuelans living close to Puan lands. Era listened for a moment and said to the group, in a calm voice, “we also met Suradad further along on the road. I explained to him what had happened and how our weapons are now superior to theirs. I implored him to take this information to his clan leader, Davot. I described for Suradad a way his vuelans would be richer by cooperating with the Cadizans.”

Era did not need to read thought to sense the skepticism in the group to her message. She waited for one of them to ask, “why do you think they will listen to any such reason? They are primitives. The Pua clan has always refused to become part of vuel.”

Era calmly explained, “that will now change. I told Suradad that Davot and all his warriors would be killed easily by this new vuelan weapon. I assured him that no Puan would survive a war against such weaponry.”

A vuelasel in the group said to Era in an authoritative tone, “the Pua are stupid. They will ignore you.”

This vuelasel was unkind to Era so I intervened to say, “la vuela, Era is a vuelessa. She presented herself to Suradad and he gave her his complete attention. It appeared that he believed what she told him.”

The skeptical vuelasel asked, “Suradad may believe you. Davot will not listen to any of this.”

Era said to the the vuelasel in a slow, measured tone, “he will listen to Suradad, and then Davot will seek confirmation.”

The vuelasel waved her head back and forth, she was sure that Davot would ignore Suradad. She asked, “how is the clan leader Davot going to confirm what you told Suradad?”

I watched Era wait for this pronouncement from the vuelasel. She also waited for the attention to return to her again. Then she said, “Davot recently held a captive vuelessa that served him. This vuelessa foresaw an assassination plot against Davot and she warned him exactly when it would take place. He was able to kill the assassins, but he did not kill the leader of the plot. The leader of the plot was expelled by Davot to form another clan. That clan leader was the one who attacked us and was killed this brightness. The vuelessa that Davot knows and trusts will come from the sky to advise him. Davot will be told that the expelled leader paid for his earlier treachery with his life. Davot will be told that this occurred in order to balance vuel among the Pua. Davot will believe what the vuelessa Ua tells him. Davot will then have a reason to take the advice to the Puans.”

I knew some of this story, having heard it from Ua herself when we were going from Refurio to Casa Lago. While Era was giving all of this description I realized she must have read the story from the minds of Suradad and myself.

The vuelans standing at our table said nothing for a moment. One of the vuelos asked, “how do you know these matters?”

I thought this was obvious. I believe a couple of the vuelans thought it was obvious, also, as Era went to her knees on the floor. She loosened two strings on her ves and because it was not the usual vuelessa ves, she helped it fall to the floor when she stood.

Era announced to the vuelans, “I am the vuelessa Era, and I serve all of you.” Era was an impressive vuelessa. Her arms showed muscle definition, probably due to her recent lack of nutrition.

One of the vuelos that had only listened, now introduced himself, “vuelessa, lo vuelo, I am Brenteg.”

I stood and introduced myself, “I am lo Renzt.” I did not need to introduce Era.

Era must have read his name already and knew that his espa accompanied him. She nodded at both of them, saying, “Lo Brenteg.”

Brenteg asked me, “the tale is that the vuelessa killed most of them. Is that true?”

I thought to Era: Shall I tell them? She nodded to me. I said to Brenteg, “the truth of a vuelessa’s action cannot be hidden. That is true. The armed guard took the side with more Puans. I defended the other side. When I turned to assist, I saw the guard down in the wagon. Later, I learned that Era had killed eight or nine of the Puans.”

The vuelans in the group said AH to this. I knew Era had not triggered and killed due to skill with the weapon. She used skill from rage to kill.

Brenteg said to Era, “I did not know that a vuelessa could kill.”

Era faced Brenteg and plainly announced to him, “there are those who should be killed, and I will kill them.” She held her eyes in his without expression.

I picked up her ves and said, “vuelessa.” I held it for her to take. I thought our discussion was over.

Brenteg and others in the group nodded and said, “you are kind, vuelessa.” They nodded to me, “you are kind, lo vuelo” and returned to their tables.

Era put her ves over her head. It was not as easy to get into like the more elegant vuelessa ves is. Era was able to make it look graceful, somehow. I poured vinho in both of our chalices and we sat down and took a sip. Era looked at me and said, “they are not finished.”

She was correct. One of the vuelas in the group, who was blonde and light complected, returned to us, to question Era, “vuelessa?”

Era turned to her and lowered her head, saying, “may I serve you, la vuela?”

The vuela said, “my name is Ilria. I was taken by the Pua when I was a kid. They returned me to vuelans here in Refurio annaros later. When they returned me they told me that I had been abandoned in the upper forests. The Puans are good, for the most part.”

Era read more than this vuela was telling her. She reached out and took the vuela’s hand, and asked, “why did they return you to vuelans here?”

The vuela smirked, “in the Pua clan I am considered, ugly. No Pua vuelo would ever want the kids I would give him. You see, they were being kind. They sent me away before I became fertile.”

I wondered if Era had asked the vuela this so that I would hear the story. I was sure that she read these details from the vuela’s mind. I did not wonder long. Era said to the vuela, “you played with the Pua kids. There was a young vuelo you liked to play with, what was his name?”

I knew where she was going with this question. The vuela, Ilria, said, “there was one vuelo, he was the Capitan’s kid. His name was Zedy.” Ilria asked Era, “you have had contact with the Pua. Did you ever hear his name?”

Era did not hesitate to tell the vuela, “yes, Ilria, I have heard his name. He became a clan leader, like his father.”

Ilria nodded, “you are kind, la vuelessa.” She went back to her table.

I did not say anything to Era, letting her read my thought.

She said to me, “I am required to be truthful. I am not required to spoil a vuela’s memory.”

I thought to her: I was not sure that Zed was Davot’s son. Are you sure of that?

Era nodded, then looked concerned. She said, “It will be difficult for Ua to prevent the annihilation of all of the Pua vuelans.”

The musicians began to play by the low stage in the dining hall. Soon it would be time for the first show to start. I saw in Era’s eyes that a vuelo had come up to me from behind. He said as I turned, “lo Renzt?”

I saw a vuelo that I recognized from the first time I was in Refurio. I stood and introduced myself to him, “I am Renzt, this is the vuelessa Era.”

Era lowered her head to the table in deference to the vuelo. He introduced himself, “I am Dolond. Welcome to the Rio Coin. You are an associate of lo Kregt?”

“Yes. I am a teamster with his company.”

Dolond’s attention went to Era. His face was horrified as he looked at her. He said, “vuelessa? Do not tell me that you are a vuelessa!”

Era stood to go to her knees. Dolond caught her before she could. He took her hands and, lifting her, said in a low voice, “you cannot wear that rag, vuelessa. Come with me.” He took her away.

She looked back at me. I thought to her: It is alright. You will be well taken care of.

note from the copyright: Journal items from Vul are transmitted to me in no particular order. The descriptions occur in my consciousness and I sort them out and organize them in these stories and chapters. You may notice that some words and descriptions of events can differ. I write what occurs in my mind with as little editing as possible. The reason I am telling you this at this time is that the data in this chapter is now changing from the descriptions of Renzt to the descriptions of Era. Beginning with the next paragraph, Era will be the first person narration.

The remainder of this story is told by Era.

Renzt was sure that I would be well taken care of by Dolond so I allowed myself to be pulled along. I could read that this vuelo was distressed that I was wearing a simple string ves. We went through a door as I said, “lo vuelo, I ask your kindness. I have not had the opportunity to obtain a proper ves since arriving in Refurio.”

Dolond was dismayed at my situation for some reason. He held me at arms length, looking me up and down, and said “lo Kregt would be crushed if he knew that a vuelessa was wearing such a rag and I did nothing about it!” He called to a vuela, “Owei! Your help is needed. This is the vuelessa Era, be kind to find a suitable ves, and.” Dolond looked closely at my face. “her, her lips and eyes, show kindness to them.”

The vuela Owei said, “yes, lo Dolond. I will take care of her.”

I read from Owei that she had helped when Ua was rescued from the Pua and Ua was in much worse condition. She was almost in awe of me and said, “I am Owei, I helped the vuelessa Ua when she was released by the Pua.” She paused. I could tell she did not know how to ask this. She wanted me to take off my ves.

I solved her quandary, “let me take this ves off, Owei, I know it is plain. I have not had time to find a proper ves here in Refurio.”

Owei went to a rack that was full of vesses and pushed some aside, pulling out one that was a soft yellow. “Try this one, vuelessa, it enhances your hair.”

Vesses on Vul are mostly one size fits all. There are some that are longer and some that are shorter. The length can be be adjusted with the fold at the waist and the adjustment on the shoulder catch. The fabric used in fine vesses has elastic properties that will both reveal and hide an extra bulge in a vuela’s figure. What I had not experienced in vuel was any kind of undergarment for vuelas. I was not aware, for that matter, of vuelen wearing undergarments. I held the ves up to myself and it looked alright so I put it over my head. The fabric was stretchy, like my original vuelessa ves, but much thicker. This ves was excellent quality. It must be expensive, I thought. I wondered as I adjusted the fit on my hips and breasts how I would pay for such a fine ves.

Owei took the strap at my shoulder. “Let me help you, vuelessa, this ves is beautiful on you.”

I looked down at the ves. It was a soft yellow with gold sparkles in it. It looked like a a ves that would be worn by a performing vuela. It also looked more expensive than it felt and it felt expensive against my skin. “This ves is fabulous, Owei. It is more beautiful than how rich it feels.” I had lived on the frontier of vuel. There were no vesses like this on the frontier. Simple vesses were all that were available. I had sold my vuelessa ves to buy three other vesses for myself and to share with the vuelas there. I loved this ves, but I was going to ask her to find something I might be able to pay for somehow. “It must be expensive. I cannot possibly buy this ves. I have no deen at all.”

Owei laughed at this. I read her thought that I was not understanding my situation. She told me “vuelessa, this ves is not for sale. You are known to lo Kregt. He provides these vesses for the serving vuelas and the performing vuelas here at the Rio Coin. You do not owe us anything for this ves. It is you who are kind to accept this ves from us.”

I hugged the vuela. Tears were in my eyes. My recent experiences had been so horrible. Now I was experiencing the kindness of vuel. I thought to Aeia: Be kind to tell your friend, lo Kregt, That I love the ves he gave me. There was only an acknowledgment from Aeia. I thought: She must be involved in serious matters.

Owei led me to a dressing table and told me, “vuelessa, here is some colored oil for your lips. Also, This is for your eyes.” She handed me two small jars. I looked up into the mirror and back at the jar with red oil and thought: Lipstick! I have not seen this since I left Pleasance. Eye liner! Was I that far out in the frontier?

I put some of the oils on my lips and at the corners of my eyes. I felt as if I was putting on another piece of clothing. While I was applying the cosmetics, a thought message entered my consciousness from Ua: Era, I have been waiting impatiently for you to send thought to Aeia. I am relieved that you are experiencing kinder vuel. I am reading about your encounter with the Pua clan.

I implored Ua: Be kind to help this situation, my Ua. The weaponry has improved and the Puas are in danger of being wiped out by the Cadizans or other vuelans. You have influence with Davot. Will you try to help?

She sent her answer: Yes, I will, kind Era. You were wise in Pleasance and you are wise now. I am reading that you seek more conflict. Use care for yourself, Era. Vuel needs you. Aeia and I need you and amor you.

My conversation with Ua had taken place as I applied the cosmetics. I stood up and saw myself in the mirror. There were no large mirrors on the frontier, either. I returned to Renzt, thinking to myself: How strange vuel is. How strange being a vuelessa in vuel is.

Renzt looked up at me as I arrived at the table. His eyes widened. I read that he was stunned at my beauty.He stood up for me, thinking: You look beautiful in that dress! He grabbed my chair to help me sit down.

The vuelans around us were watching me. I read their thoughts: Yes, she is a vuelessa. I see it now. She is obviously a vuelessa. Renzt was thinking the same thing. I met his gaze and told him, “you are kind, my Renzt.”

He encouraged me to watch the show that the Rio Coin presents for it’s patrons. It was good advice. The show was fabulous and took my mind from the stress of the brightness. The dancers were talented and the movements intriguing. The story of amor that the dancers portrayed was fun to follow. I did not need the romantic stimulation to become amorous for Renzt. My intention was to hold him in me this dim until he had nothing left. I am sure it was the rich vinho that we were served that caused us to instead fall asleep with each other as soon as we touched the bed in our room.

The promise of the brightness came through the window in our room and, having slept soundly, I began to awaken. Renzt moved so I reached to his penis to assess his interest. He immediately began to harden and I was all over him. My intention from the dim was realized now in the early brightness. I was sure we were able to perform better than we would have last dim. Sitting atop his erection, I watched Renzt’s pleasure while I read his appreciation of the visage I presented. His satisfaction was strong when I threw my head back during a series of my orgasms. I fell forward onto him after his ejaculation. His arms circled me and I was held with my arms pinned until he softened and fell away.

We visited Pargont before we had our desayun meal. Due to the kindness of Sola, he was feeling good. His neck was sore on one side. He wanted to accompany Renzt on a return trip. Renzt told him he would certainly hire him for it. We ate in the Trader house and asked them to take some food to Pargont.

I read that Renzt wanted me to continue with him but did not know how to ask this of me. He did not want to impede my mission as a vuelessa, whatever that mission was. Thought reading was particularly valuable in this situation. I also read that Renzt was hungry so I waited to say anything until he had eaten most of his desayun meal. Then, I said to him, “my Renzt, I pledged to serve you. I will continue to serve you only if you want me to.”

He looked at me and I read something that I did not expect. My eyes became misty. His thought was clear. I was now holding back tears. I could barely pronounce the words, “I am in amor with you, too, my Renzt. No, I don’t know how this works for a vuelessa, and I don’t care.”

He thought: Knowing how well you read my thought, I was afraid to think about how attracted I was to you. Could you tell?

“Yes, I could read that, but I had to interpret it as unspecific male appreciation of a female. Are you saying that you don’t have those thoughts for other vuelas?”

He smiled broadly while thinking: Sure, I do, but I had those thoughts when you were so dirty that I couldn’t tell what color your hair was.

“Oh no, that was awful. I smelled bad too, didn’t I?”

Renzt made a face, thinking: Yeah, you did need a bath. I felt serious pity at that moment for you.

I felt deeper amor for him now! “If you had amor for me then, my Renzt, then your amor is certainly genuine.”

Renzt thought further: What about you, my Era. Any vuelo could have bought you out of the line in Larex. Would you have had amor for any vuelo that bought you?

I read that he knew there was more to my amor for him. He wanted to hear what it was. I stared into his eyes and said, “you not only bought me, my Renzt, you restored me to my vuelessa status. At that moment, my gratitude became reverence. You restored me and asked nothing in return. Yes, you rescued all three of us. There was no way to know what would have happened to us if you had not bought us, but freeing us immediately was totally unexpected. I don’t believe that other vuelos would have done that. When you restored me to vuelessa, I could have walked away from you. My amor for you was sealed at that moment.”

Renzt looked at me with appreciation. His thoughts were of contentment. We both felt relief that our feelings were shared by the other.

Another thought came from him: What do vuelos do at this point? Do we give the vuela something?

I almost laughed at this thought. “Could you ever give me more than my freedom?”

He smiled, thinking: Yes. I think I can.

A question continued to circulate in my consciousness. It was a thought that Ua had sent. She said that I sought conflict. I wondered: Did I seek conflict? I said, “Renzt, I must ask you something. You know Ua, you know something about her ability to read thought. How thorough is her ability?”

Renzt began to remember Ua and Exthius and that Exthius was from another planet and the two of them had traveled that planet, called Fafoalo.

I couldn’t believe these thoughts were so clear. I thought: These thoughts must be nonsense! I held my hand up to him and spoke softly, “stop. Are you telling me they traveled to another planet? Exthius is from another planet and he is able to travel through space?”

Renzt paused to let my mind catch up. He continued: Yes, that is what we believe happened with them. Exthius, that is not his name, that is what we can pronounce, is from the planet Fafoalo. I am sure of this much. Exthius’ mind reading and telepathic capabilities allow him to communicate not only across great distances but to his family on the other planet.

At this moment, Ua sent me the thought: This is true, my Era. My espo is known in thought as The Essence of Imagination used for creating joy. I am known by him as The Essence of Beauty that Enlivens. My pronounceable fafoaloan name is Exerva.

Ua’s thought was completely logical in my mind. Her name and The Essence of Imagination Used for Creating Joy were much more meaningful than Ua or Exerva, and Exthius. Yes, she did travel to Fafoalo with him. That was where they confirmed their coupled beingness in the universe for all to see. That was such a beautiful ceremony! It was as if I had seen a video of the entire trip. No, there were occurrences during the trip that The Essence of Beauty that Enlivens did not replay for me, and I understood why. The more I communicated with Essence of Beauty that Enlivens the more my mind expanded. I remembered that Renzt was sending me thought. I looked at him.

He wondered what was the matter and asked, out loud, “What?”

I realized that all of the information I had received from The Essence of Beauty that Enlivens had arrived in my consciousness and been processed without interrupting Renzt at all. I was enthusiastically amazed. I told Renzt, “Ua is now called Exerva. She sent thoughts to me to confirm everything you were telling me.” I paused to think about what Essence of Beauty that Enlivens had thought to me earlier. I said, “Renzt, she also said that I seek conflict. What do you think that means?”

Renzt sat back in his chair and tilted his head. His thought was clear to me: I don’t know, but it sounds exciting, and dangerous. Exciting and dangerous. I can do exciting and dangerous.

We went to the cargo wharves seeking a contract to haul. Renzt did not have a cargo scheduled for his wagon and team. We also wanted to spread the information about the attack on the road to the Cadiz. On the way to the wharf office I received thoughts that involved Rentz and myself. We seemed to be the subject of interest this brightness. I said, “my Renzt, I am reading that someone is waiting to meet us at the wharf.”

He smiled at me while we walked, and asked me, “should we ready our weapons?”

This was a phrase I heard him use with Pargont. I laughed and said, “we are not in danger. There are those that want details of the attack of the previous brightness.”

In the main wharf building there was a table and chairs. Several vuelen sat about. I read that they were waiting for contracts. A couple of them had contract shipments that they were waiting to put on a barge or riverboat. They all looked up at Renzt and me when we walked toward the table.

One of the vuelen called to us, “you must be the pair that fought off the Puan attack.” He looked at me as he said this. I wore my new ves. It passed as a vuelessa ves. I read that Renzt was proud to have these vuelen see him with me and me with him. I had wondered if he would care if it was known that I had killed more of the Puans than he did. Renzt did not care about that, rather, he was gratified for my skill.

Renzt answered the vuelo, “we are those. Our armed vuelo was in the fight also. He is recovering well from his wound.”

Another vuelo told us, “it is said that the vuelessa killed them all.”

I answered him quickly, “that is not true. There is no way that could have happened.”

Renzt touched my arm and addressed the matter, “that legend is more true than most legends. The real truth is in the weaponry.”

The first vuelo said, “then the word of the new weapons from Pagalund’s works is true?”

Renzt nodded and lifted his weapon for them to see. They all wanted to know more. Renzt began to describe the weapon when a booming voice called from the large door to the lane, “lo Renzt.”

We both looked up. This vuelo knew Renzt. He also had a shipment that was a problem. Renzt called back to him, “Barkalund! It is good of you to come to work this brightness.”

Barkalund was a manager of some sort in the transport businesses. He returned Renzt’s insult. “I am coming back to work after mid brightness comida, Renzt, and all I hear on the lanes of Refurio is how a vuelessa defended you from the Pua clan!”

The vuelen’s taunting was friendly but I read that Barkalund had a serious problem that he wanted Renzt to help with. Barkalund gave a nod to the other teamsters. The teamsters understood this gesture from Barkalund and left us alone with him. He became serious and asked, “what is the true story of the attack last brightness?”

Renzt looked at me and said, “you tell the story.” He also sent the thought to me: You tell him. You know when Pargont went down. You may reveal as much of your abilities as you wish.

Barkalund turned serious and gave me his attention. I said, “the attack was meant to catch us unaware. There were more than fifteen Pua. Most of them were armed with bows and arrows. They also carried large knives. Their intent was certainly to kill us.”

Barkalund was more concerned now that he was hearing the story first hand.

“When they came out of the brush with arrows ready in their bows, Renzt galloped the zebry. Ahead of us, though, there were two Pua that waved the zebry to a stop. The attack was well organized. They came out of the brush from both sides of the wagon, releasing arrows. One of the arrows hit Pargont in the neck. He held his stance though he was hit and triggered his weapon toward them. His shoulder would not allow him to fire again accurately so he got down to wind his weapon. I took it from him at that moment and triggered into the group of Puans coming at us. They had not anticipated my return fire. Five of them fell. I triggered again and two more fell. That was when Renzt had turned to trigger with me and his weapon killed one of the remaining two. The clan leader then turned and ran.”

I paused. Barkalund was riveted on my description. I felt some of the rage I had felt during the attack. I continued, “the clan leader did not out run my weapon. One of my darts hit him in his leg causing him to fall. I jumped from the wagon, following him as he was trying to crawl away, and I removed his evil from vuel, forever.”

Barkalund was misreading my expression of rage as one of fear or relief. He was disappointed. He had hoped that Renzt and I could take on the contract he was concerned about. He looked at Renzt and said quietly, “I have a contract shipment of weapons that no one will take to the settlements beyond the Akavan. I thought the two of you might be the teamsters that would be up to the task.”

I read what the mission was from his mind. The criminal hordes beyond the Akavan were out of control and this shipment of advanced weapons were being sent to vuelans settling in the region.

Rage built within me as I went to my knees in front of Barkalund. My face went to the floor and I unhooked my ves. The rage from sixes ago which was stored up inside me and now exploded to the surface as I stood up. My hands did not make the correct gestures of a vuelessa presenting herself because my fists remained clenched.

Barkalund was unprepared of what he was seeing. His eyes were wide.

My voice was guttural as I announced, “I will serve you.” I read from Renzt that he would join me in this quest. I turned to Renzt for a moment to confirm his resolve from his thought. I looked back into Barkalund’s eyes to tell him, “we will deliver the weapons. Then we will track the hordes, and we will kill them all.”

Kregt 1.3

We learn a few things about the universe

This story is told by Kregt

The floating block became stable under our feet. We weren’t floating anymore. I squinted into a blinding light. This was not bright light, this was light that disorients the brain.

Eloe called to me, “what’s happening?”

“I don’t know. Whatever it is, I hope it’s the Resjed doing this. I don’t think we’re floating. I think we are attached to something, or sitting on something.”

Eloe shifted her weight on her feet and said, “I think we are too. Can you see anything?”

“I’m trying. It’s too bright.” I remembered to use thought: Can you see anything?

She called, “it’s giving me a headache.”

I had my arm hooked around the railing on the block, I didn’t know what we might bump into. We felt the block touch a surface and come to a firm stop. I thought: The block has stopped as if it was supposed to stop here.

Eloe whispered to me, “I read someone close by. She is satisfied that we are secured here.”

The light dimmed. We opened our eyes to see that we were in a docking area. My hand was on my weapon. An electronically produced voice said, “welcome Kregt and Eloe. You are the guests of the Resjed.”

I relaxed and took my hand from my weapon. Our eyes were adjusting to the light. It seemed dark in this place at first, my eyes were adjusting. I thought: Are you seeing this?

She answered, “are you seeing what is behind us?”

I turned and saw what she was amazed by. A huge window covered us and we could see the planet slowly moving away from us. I thought: I don’t feel movement, do you?

In a moment, Eloe said, “No. I don’t.”

That is how large this, whatever this is we are on, is. We watched as Vul became smaller. We could see most of the planet through the window now. We sensed no motion whatsoever. We were floating, weightless. I tilted my elbow so that Eloe floated toward me and grabbed her other hand. We are being pulled toward that big box thing over there.

Eloe was reading thought from a Resjed being somewhere in the vessel we were in. She said, “yes, we are being guided to that square thing. They are satisfied that we are accepting this movement.”

We floated into the big box and clear panels closed us in. We were instructed by a voice, saying, “be kind to remove all clothing. You may leave your clothing and your weapons. They will be held securely for you until you depart.”

“This should be fun!” I also thought: Can you read what this is about?

She pulled close to my ear and whispered, “they mean no harm.”

We took our clothes off. This was easy for Eloe, she was wearing only her ves. I had to pull my boots off and then my pantos and shirt. I thought: This is so different. I’m not getting an odd feeling about being naked, after all we’ve been through. Are you?

Eloe floated in front of me and watched as I spun head over heels trying to pull my boot off. She asked, “Do you need some help?”

My boot came off at that moment. No, you are kind.

She answered my earlier thought, “I don’t feel like I’m getting naked, not like on Earth, no. What do you think the purpose is?”

I thought: At least they said they would keep our clothes secure, so I am taking that to mean that we will get them back.

The voice announced, “an ionic coating will cover you now. As you begin to feel your weight, be kind to stand on the floor.”

Eloe felt it first, she moaned. “This feels good, weird, but good.”

I began to feel the sensation she was feeling. This is interesting. The substance coated my legs and my feet gently touched the floor. I saw a translucent film develop over my legs and move up around my hips. It felt like I was wearing pantos, except that it was snug against my penis and felt like underwear. I thought to Eloe: Weird is a good description for this. The substance formed up around my chest and over my shoulders. My arms and neck and head were left open.

Eloe was looking at me, “this isn’t fair! Yours is opaque! You can see right through mine!”

No, I can’t see through yours, I can see through mine.

Eloe read my thought, “so, we can see through our own and not each others?” She read another thought from me and answered: “Yes, my coating is giving me a lot of um, support up here.”

Eloe looked like she was wearing a push up bra. I was enjoying the view when I realized we were both standing on the floor of the compartment we were in. I pushed off of the floor with only my feet and my jump was about a hand high. I looked at Eloe with wide eyes, thinking: This is so wonderful. Try it!

Eloe pushed off with her toes. She went three or four hands up! She reached out to me, making a high pitched noise. I grabbed her, though she was already coming down again.

The voice announced to us, “you are kind, follow the lighted path. We have liquids and crunchy bites for you.”

I took Eloe’s hand. We walked carefully, to prevent pushing ourselves off of the floor. She looked stunning, I thought, in the substance covering her. She looked over and smiled her gratitude, having read my appreciation for her beauty. Can you tell that your covering is an aqua color?

She looked down at herself. “No. Well maybe a little. Can you tell yours is a reddish brown?”

I checked myself. Not at all.

We went through a portal. There were three Resjed in front of us. They had varying shades of red skin color. I thought to Eloe: I am relieved that they are wearing what we are wearing! They were wearing the same substance. There was an obvious female wearing light blue. An obvious male wearing black. The third Resjed was a nice looking being wearing dark yellow. There was no telling which sex the third Resjed was.

It was our fortune that the third Resjed was our host. That Resjed said to us, “be kind to join us, Eloe and Kregt. I am Chikigig.” Chikigig motioned to the female. This is “Thalwa.” Chikigig’s voice did not clear up my gender question.

The male of the trio stepped forward to offer his palm to me in the vuelan fashion, saying, “I am Gologok, commander of the vessel. Welcome onto our orbiting transport. I must compliment you on your skill at floating a raw block.”

Gologok’s compliment sounded real. I answered, “I haven’t crashed it yet.”

Eloe said quickly, “what about the first time, into the tree? And the second time, into the lake?”

I looked at the Resjed and said to Eloe, for them to hear, “we walked away, didn’t we? Eloe smirked. Gologok and Tholwa smiled pleasantly, probably not understanding the humor, while Chikigig laughed out loud.

Gologok invited us to sit on some large blobs and offered us vinho and salted breads which were similar to the things we eat on Vul. I sat on the blobs they indicated for to sit on. I thought to Eloe: This furniture is interactive. It forms to your body. We all sat facing each other and I asked the first question, “what is this that is covering us?”

Thalwa answered, looking mostly at Eloe, “Shzashzaza, the voice that welcomed you in the docking area, arranges the coatings for our guests. She chooses a color from your planetary clothing. That color enhances your beauty, Eloe. Both of you look healthy in the coatings. Are the coatings comfortable?”

Eloe answered for us, “they are as comfortable as our own skin. What is this substance? Why can we see through it?”

Chikigig answered this,”it is made up of ions that attach to the molecules at the surface of your skin to create a dense coating. It does appear to you that you can see through your own coating, but that is only because of angle and proximity.”

I leaned close to Eloe. If I get close enough, yes, I can see through, slightly.

Chikigig added, “it would be about the same as wearing any thin fabric. You can touch your skin through the coating, also. ”

I wondered, but did not ask how one would eliminate wastes. Eloe raised her eyebrows, having wondered the same thing.

Chikigig anticipated our query, telling us, “to eliminate,” there was a pause to assure that we understood, “you simply pretend you are naked. The coating will cover over again when you are finished,”

I said, for both of us, “you are most kind.” While I thought, how convenient!

We discussed the recent occurrences of vuel, including the spectacle we had flown over only a period ago. During the period we were discussing these matters, Gologok was called away.

Chikigig asked me if I would like to see some of the vessel before we meet Gologok again. At the same time, Thalwa asked Eloe, “may I invite you to enjoy some personal luxury while Chikigig and Gologok discuss matters with your Kregt?”

Eloe looked at me, unsure. It is alright, go and enjoy yourself !

Eloe smiled and bessed me, whispering, “have fun my amoro.” She and Thalwa left.

Chikigig motioned to me, “join me, Kregt. Allow me to show you some of our technology.”

All of this jovial kindness was causing me to question what was going on. “You are showing kindness to us and we are glad to accept, Chikigig. Why did you pull my floating block into your vessel? Why are we being treated this way?”

Chikigig, again, anticipated my questions. He, or she, nodded to me and said, “that is the first question I expected to answer for you, Kregt.” A door opened into a large room with a dark curved window that looked out into space. Chikigig invited, “come in and relax. We have many things to discuss.”

There were more of the furnishings that had no shape but became the form that you wanted them to be. My couch gave me high lumbar support and a backward lean that I always tried to achieve in a chair. I stretched my head back to relieve the tension in my neck. The view through the window was impossible to ignore. I had to ask, “is that a window?”

Chickgig smiled, “it is a screen that is receiving multiple images and blending them into the panoramic vision that you perceive as coming through a window.”

“Have you traveled to Earth?”

Chikigig answered, “once, and I lived there for a rotation.”

My mind could not organize all of my queries. “When a vessel is traveling to Earth, how does it avoid the stray asteroids and small planets?”

Chikigig answered, “those objects are easy to avoid, they can be identified by our sensors. The difficult things are the energy waves and magnetic fields that we cross.”

“When I asked your Captain Zhodag, he said that your vessels did not use much energy to travel across the universe. How does that work?”

Chikigig answered, “the energy created between atoms is the most available in the universe. Earth scientists are beginning to understand this energy. They currently refer to it generally as dark energy.”

“How is it converted, or used to move a huge spacecraft at amazing speeds?”

He replied, “you will have to discuss that with one of our propulsion scientists.” He saw that I wanted to speak to a propulsion scientist. “You will have to learn the Resjed lengua to do so.”

“Alright.” I went on to a more immediate concern, asking, “what do you want with me? Do you want your floating block back?” I thought this was probably why Eloe and I were pulled in.

Chikigig smiled and answered, “we wanted to get that block off of Vul. We cannot have you floating around on something that is so primitive. We want the vuelans to respect us, not ridicule us. We are amazed that you have not killed yourself and many other vuelans with you. Though that is not the most important reason why we invited you, or brought you onto our vessel.”

“Wait, you said you have to avoid energy waves, and magnetic fields? Why?”

Chikigig paused, “those elements are used in our navigation as well as providing an energy source. Concentrations of the magnetic fields could send a vessel off course by an entire degree. It is correctable, but may take an extra annaro to correct the course. It is important to know where they are.”

“The material that the block is made of is mined on Govul. Do the magnetic properties work on other planets as well as Vul?”

Chikigig answered, “It works on many planets.”

“The block is not the prime reason I’m here. What is the prime reason?”

Chikigig answered, “you are here because of the questions you have asked me. The Resjed civilization has been harvesting Earth humans for over one hundred annaros. It is only in the last twenty annaros that the Earth human cognitive skills have developed a level of enlightenment that we are able to cultivate.”

“You said harvest. Earth humans are harvested? You say the Resjed are harvesting Earth humans. Another way to say that is the Resjed are abducting Earth humans against their will.”

Chikigig said, “do you wish to return?”

My mind processed the possibilities. There was no way I wanted to return to Earth. The trip, I was told, takes nine or ten Earth years. If I went back I would be twenty years older. Earth society would be completely different. I slowly shook my head, no.

Chikigig said nothing, letting me consider my answer for myself.

“Chikigig, you are unlike other Resjed. Your characteristics are different.”

Chikigig had been expecting my question, “neither male nor female?”


Chikigig answered, “I am what is called an orovo. We are able to develop the male or female characteristics that we choose to develop. I have developed many more female characteristics and I am considered female in Resjed society.

While she was saying this I realized that there were a thousand other technological advances beyond interplanetary travel. I asked further, “what is your field of study?”

She said, “the Earth words that describe my field would be anthropology and sociology. We have one word that is more descriptive for those two subjects. It is speciotha. I am a speciothast.”

I had strayed far from the subject I needed to know about. “Why am I here? You could find Humans that are more technologically advanced than I am.”

Chikigig answered, “you have demonstrated a noticeable ability to adapt in vuel. This is a quality that has not been dominant in vuel. This quality is necessary and we want to ask your cooperation in our development of vuel. You had a conversation with our Captain Zhodag a few brightnesses ago in which you and your friend Aeia requested technological advancement in vuel. We had been anticipating that this request was imminent and we are glad to receive it.”

I considered what she said and waited.

Chikigig continued, “We want agents of change, such as yourself, who will guide vuel in a positive direction. A direction that will move vuel toward a greater future.”

I questioned the value of such an agent, asking, “you have already set up a system to solve trade disputes and those groups regulate commerce. What would be the value of an agent of change?”

Chikigig nodded, “once again, your question demonstrates your value to us. The trade council in Centium was unaware of your enterprises until you had become one of the wealthiest vuelen in the city.” She anticipated my next query, saying, “yes, we have contacts among the vuelans in vuel. They are usually the wealthy and privileged. No, we do not limit the wealth to these vuelans, though our help has had an effect similar to limiting wealth. That is another reason we want a relationship with you, and your espa, Eloe.”

“You want to have a relationship with me because I became successful all on my own and without your guidance.”

Chikigig smiled. “We also know that you were involved in the incident involving Govul mining. You played a minor part in that event that turned out to be in our interest. When this was determined, we were more anxious to meet you.”

I reinforced this opinion for her, “minor role is accurate, I didn’t know what they were talking about most of the time.” I wondered how important my discussion with Zhodag had been in causing the Resjed to bring Eloe and me onto their orbiting vessel. “Chikigig, my question is yet unanswered. You could pay vuelans to steer things your way. Why is someone like me important to your plans?”

Chikigig was well educated. She said, “on Earth, lo Kregt, do the societies that are guided by the free will of their citizens prosper more than those directed by their governments?”

I sat back in the furniture. She sat back in hers, mirroring me. It occurred to me that free will must be universally indispensable. “Those guided by free will become more prosperous every time, and I agree with your view. Is Captain Zhodag on board?”

She said, “he is usually not on board. His duties keep him on planet most of the time.”

I thought this was interesting. Was there a Resjed headquarters building on Vul somewhere? I asked Chikigig, “from where does he operate?”

She answered easily, “no particular place. A rendezvous craft drops into the atmosphere to meet with his transport whenever necessary. He also meets all of the long mission transports.”

“He does not live somewhere on Vul?”

Her answer was polite, “I cannot say.”

“I understand.” She was, perhaps, respecting Zhodag’s privacy by not giving me details. I began to ask about Resjed life on this vessel when Gologok came into the area where we were. I stood up because it seemed like the correct response. Chikigig kept her seat.

Gologok said, “you did not need to stand, you are our guest.”

“The Resjed humans and Earth Humans must breathe the same air mixture, since I am on your vessel and I am breathing normally.”

Gologok answered, “yes, we do.” He looked at Chikigig to ask her, “it seems that you did not cover much for our guest?”

Chikigig said, “he is asking good questions and I’m sure he isn’t finished,.”

Gologok looked at me with anticipation. I asked him, “why am I here? She has told me that you like the way I have adapted. That is translucent logic. Not much of a reason. Can you explain further?” I didn’t want Gologok to think that Chikigig did not try to explain.

Gologok did not try to answer me. He said to Chikigig, “lo Kregt has suffered enough of our Resjed detail speak. Ask him directly.”

Chikigig stood up and offered both of her palms. “Lo Kregt, the Resjed civilization requests your cooperation in the development of vuel. Will you aid and assist as you are able?”

I looked at both of them and said, “you are kind to ask. I have a problem I wish to discuss.”

Gologok and Chikigig nodded their approval.

I took care in bringing this concern. I said, “the harvesting of Earth humans is not a fair outcome for the Earth human. I also suspect that, during the original voyage, our D.N.A. was altered to become compatible with Resjed D.N.A. Is this correct?” As I said these things Gologok and Chikigig seemed glad that I was asking.

Gologok deferred to Chikigig. She said, “we are glad that you asked. Once again, it demonstrates to us that we are seeking the correct vuelo. Yes, the abductions are unfair to the individuals. The blending of D.N.A. without consent is improper, in itself. I would ask you, lo Kregt, are you aware of the ancient human civilizations on Earth?”

I realized that I was about to learn something amazing. “I know that ancient civilizations are being identified by their sunken architecture and that these Earth humans lived many thousands of annaros before our historical understanding of human civilization.”

Chikigig continued, “that is correct. There was at least one human civilization on Earth before the one your current archaeologists are only now identifying.” She stopped to let my mind catch up, then continued, “the race we are developing here on Vul will be able to live on the highest number of planets that we currently know of. Earth will probably have another catastrophic event that will severely diminish the current population.” Once again, she paused to let my mind catch up. She asked, “now that you have this further knowledge, can you see that our efforts are of a benevolent nature?”

I was shaking my head. I said, “I had to ask.”

Eloe called to me when we touched down again, “this is amazing!”

I ran to her to say, “I saw you twirling, how did you do that?”

We were swimming in the water glob. This is a pool of water that floats in the air and is held together by an ion bag. It is a huge glob of water that you can jump up into and swim straight up through to the top of the blob. If you want, you can come out of the blob and slide down the edge of the blob to the floor. There is also a web surrounding the blob that you can grab and push yourself back into the blob.

Eloe said, “tuck your legs up and push with your arms.”

I told her, “I’m going once more and then I’m going to the swimming pool.”

She said, “I’ll be there soon.” Then she dove up into the blob again.

Our ion suits reacted strangely in water, they became clear. It was like they disappeared, though they were still there. Eloe swam to the top of the blob again. I could see her skin color, in a blur. My own suit appeared clear to me. The deep red skinned Resjed in the pool area looked blurry to me. They appeared to be wearing a suit made of waxed paper. I supposed that was what I looked like to them.

I swam laps until Eloe joined me and we swam together for a few laps. Eloe was a better swimmer than I was. I was impressed with how she could swim faster than I could with much less shoulder strength. Her stroke seemed effortless. At the end of each lap she would stop and let me catch up. This was not helping me keep up with her. It was only letting her catch her breath. Swimming was the most popular exercise on the orbiting vessel because water offers the same resistance in reduced gravity as it does in full gravity. When I had kept up with her long enough we got out and laid on some lounges in the full Sola that was directly reflected onto the Sola deck. The Resjed used a lens that filtered out one part of the light spectrum that is dangerous for their skin.

Eloe and I were assigned a couple room on the vessel which is set up for two beings living as a couple. This was how the room was described for us. It was a bedroom, living area, kitchen and bathing area. The furnishings were nondescript things that would take whatever shape you wanted them to be. When we first went into the rooms, I saw a panel with buttons and pushed a button that looked like the on button. The wall across from me lit up with fifteen or twenty squares. I stared at it.

Eloe had used the bathing area. She came in, looked up and said, “oh wow, television?”

I spoke to her, “I can’t believe it. I never thought I would see a TV again.” Then I became aware that this room was much larger than it had appeared moments before. I was thinking: What has happened? This room is twice the size it was moments ago.

Eloe walked to the wall. She saw what I saw but her mind was not fooled as thoroughly as mine. She waved her hands in front of her eyes and said, “this is an illusion. The wall has appeared to become farther away. The illusion will make us feel that we are in a larger area.” She turned to me, reading my thought and agreed, “yes, I wonder how many other walls were much closer than they appeared?”

Eloe read that I was more interested in the vision that she was presenting. She stood still to allow me to embrace her and lift her off the floor. Her legs circled my waist as I carried her to the bedding, thinking: Let’s find out what amazing technology is in the bed. I was giving her my thought to tell her that I wanted to amorig. When we fell into the bed, it was the softest we had ever been on. Another characteristic of the bed was that our ion coatings disappeared. We looked at each other, thinking and saying together: This is convenient!

We bessed and caressed. She found my erection and whispered, “the bed is so soft.” She giggled, “it makes this feel harder.”

I rose up on my knees between her legs. I sunk into the bed only a little bit. The feel was similar to a deep visco elastic mattress. Eloe assisted in her penetration. Our bodies joined fluidly. I held still in her for a moment. She hugged me tighter than usual, I thought: Are you correcting for the lighter gravity?

A moaning sigh answered. We eased into long comfortable amorig.

The Resjed vessel offered nearly full planetary gravity in about half of the ship. The middle of the ship was zero gravity and was where the propulsion systems were. Zero gravity offers efficiency advantages to power systems that the Resjed take full advantage of. I was told that these power systems are built in zero gravity for the greatest efficiency. When I asked what happens when the vessel drops close to a planet I was told that it never does.

I asked Chikigig how we were taken in by the vessel if it never drops into planetary gravity, she said, “You were not picked up by the entire vessel. You were taken aboard an expeditionary vessel and brought out to this vessel.”

Eloe was with me during this conversation. I thought: Do I sound stupid?

She shook her head no. Later, when we were alone, she told me that Chikigig considered me intelligent because I asked good questions.

Are you beginning to be able to read them now?

She whispered, “I’m improving. I am understanding their language, or understanding their meaning, somehow.”

Do you think they know you can read their thoughts?

Eloe locked eyes with me and shook her head slowly, no.

We were spending a couple of sixes on the Resjed vessel. Both of us were being loaded with knowledge for use when we returned to Vul. Knowledge loading was accomplished while in an altered reality. The process was called sensory alluvion. I was unable to tell Eloe what I had learned and she was unable to tell me what she learned. The data, we were both told, would be found in our memories as we needed it. The success of the process was demonstrated to me several times. During one demonstration, Chikigig introduced me to a Resjed propulsion scientist.

The scientist, Tilgalan, offered me his palm and said something in the Resjed lengua. He laughed as my face showed complete surprise. I understood him!

Chikigig smiled when she saw my reaction, “the alluvion of the lengua is giving you comprehension.”

I said to both of them, “the electromagnetic properties of predominant energy is compressed to produce a vacuum through which an interplanetary vessel travels.”

Tilgalan said a phrase that meant I did not understand the concept.

Chikigig said, “Tilgalan congratulated you on learning the elementary principle of interplanetary propulsion.”

When Chikigig said this, the principle became more clear to me. I said, “the energy and empty space in the atomic material is temporarily gathered into the path of the vessel?”

Chikigig translated what I said for Tilgalan. I understood several of the words in the reply from the Resjed lengua. Tilgalan brightened and grasped my hand to congratulate me. I asked Chikigig, “do I know other things that will come into my mind when I need them?”

She nodded, saying, “yes. That is how it works. You will be thinking of a method to solve a problem and if the solution is available, it will occur to you. You may also realize new methods for processes by blending knowledge from multiple sources. The human brain is able to do this when logic fails.”

I realized what was occurring, “the knowledge is in a part of my brain that I wasn’t using.”

Chikigig said, “there are areas in our brain that are sparsely populated with data. Cognition is enhanced in these areas when there is more data available.”

I thought of the floating block and knew that the material mined on Govul was a seventy nine percent pure form of the compound. The mix has to be over ninety percent pure to attain the anti gravitational properties. The substance is anti gravitational due to a concentration of an element on Vul that is highly magnetic. That material would be easily concentrated to create ground transport on Vul. Then I thought of using crystals to create an electronic wave that could be transmitted by a dish antenna. These processes flowed into my consciousness.

I looked at Chikigig with an amazement that I had never experienced before. All I could say was, “I can’t wait to create everything!” Chikigig smiled, having confirmed for herself that the knowledge transfers were successful.

I sent thought to Eloe that my mind had been expanded beyond anything imaginable and I can’t wait to see her. Walking toward our couple room I realized that my perception of everything was different. I understood how this vessel was operated. I understood the individual components of this huge orbiting village.

When we met I could tell that she had something to tell me. I thought: What is it?

She spoke softly but with intent, “Ua has been trying to reach us for sixes. We have been up here on this vessel for almost a rotation, according to the thought stream that she has sent.”

That cannot be. We have been up here for one or two sixes at most. We hurried to our couples room to check our perceptions. When we entered I pushed a button to bring up a time program on the wall screen. The image made no sense to me.

Eloe, though, was staring intently into the screen. She pointed and counted and then counted something on her fingers. Her eyes were wide as she said, “Ua is correct, we have been up here for almost a rotation!”

“That is not possible. Are you counting this correctly?” As I asked this I knew she had counted correctly. Reading the Resjed calendar was something she was now able to do. You were given this knowledge, weren’t you?

She nodded, telling me, “yes, I can now understand the Resjed calendar. It is similar to the calendar of Vul. I know the conversion calculation between the two calendars and Ua is correct. It is almost the forty first. The next brightness on Vul will be the forty first. Ua needs our help to take her to meet the leader of the Pua clan on the forty third.”

Ua would not be asking this if it were not important. I touched the message button. Our message button accessed Chikigig as a default choice. I said, “Chikigig. Eloe and I have remembered that we have pressing business on the forty third in vuel. Will it be possible for us to return to Vul so that we can fulfill our obligations?” I thought to Eloe: I don’t want to give away that you can read thought.

Eloe poured some vinho that we had in the room and we relaxed in front of the screen. I thought to her: The basic elements for picture transmission are available on Vul. You and I will watch a screen in our hacienda during some future brightness.

She said nothing for a moment, then sipped her vinho and said, “do you think that is a good idea? Television could ruin vuel.”

Eloe’s question actuated a thousand ideas in my mind. Electronic devices appeared in my mind. There were vehicles transporting vuelans great distances to new cities. I saw Vul completely transformed. I thought: Yes. Everything about vuel is going to change. Television will only be a small part of the change. I took a long sip from my chalice and thought further: You are also seeing a completely transformed Vul, aren’t you?

The message tone came through the viewing screen. The voice of Chikigig followed, saying, “Kregt and Eloe, I received your message and yes, we are able to accommodate your request. Be kind to tell me if we have detained you for too long.”

“We have lost track of the passage of the brightnesses, Chikigig. We will be forever grateful for the knowledge we’ve received and we will be glad to return in a future brightness.”

She answered, “you both have successfully absorbed the data that is necessary. We were planning to invite you both to enjoy comida with Commander Gologok and some of his command this dim. Will you join us?”

“We will be honored to attend.”

Chikigig said, “I will meet you at the yellow intersection of the grand corridor in two periods.”

I thought to Eloe: Why have they given us all of this knowledge and why are they being so friendly to us?

Eloe closed her eyes and opened them to me. This was her signal to me to tell me she has read thought on this subject. She whispered into my ear, “We fit into their plans. That is the recurring idea that I read.”

That is exactly what I have thought.

The serving area that Chikigig escorted us into was fantastic. Tables were on grass that felt real under our feet. The grass gave way to a beach and what appeared to be an inland sea lapped onto the beach.

Eloe asked me, “is any of this real?” She felt the grass between her toes and was looking out at the sea. “This grass is real, but that can’t be.”

“This feels like turf that we are walking on and the sand beach is real, but the water is a mirage. That reminds me, we were on our way to the Great Bay area, weren’t we?”

Chikigig introduced us to the Resjed that would be at our table, then asked, “we have some vinho you may recognize.” She poured us both a chalice and watched as we sipped.

I noticed the bottle as one of those that Fettik markets and asked, “is this from Fettik? If it is then he is not giving me the best vinhos that he offers.”

Eloe agreed, “this vin is wonderful. Where is he hiding this?”

Chikigig said, “it is from Fettik. That is another reason we want to work with the two of you. Be kind not to ask Fettik about this vinho. It is one that you have sipped often. It tastes stronger now because most other flavors have become bland in an orbiting environment.”

“I have heard of that problem from the Earth astronauts. I would have thought that Resjed science would have solved the problem.”

Chikigig smiled, “It is the nature of flavors that they work on planets, but not so well away from their environment. The vinho of Vul holds it’s flavor successfully when brought into orbit .”

Commander Gologok told me during the dinner that I would not be returning with my floating block. He said, “as impressed as we are with your piloting skills on a raw block, we want you to return with something more serviceable. Our excursion vehicle captain will instruct you on the operation of the transport we want you to use. She will meet you in the docking vessel after the sleep period.”

The Resjed spoke to us of many things. To our amazement, we were conversant in most of the subjects. We had a tacit understanding of those that we were not conversant in. When the comida meeting broke up Gologok said to me, “would you be kind enough to follow me? There is something I must show you.”

Eloe and I followed him. I thought to her: What is he showing us?

Eloe tilted her head to show me that she was reading something interesting.

When we were alone in the corridor Gologok said, “the incursion of vuel by the Intempla was more extensive than our intelligence had suggested. That is why we involved the Fafoaloans. I am told that you know one of them. He who calls himself Exthius?”

I did know Exthius. I found him with several Earth humans in Refurio.”Yes, I know him. He and my Earth friend, Ua, she calls herself Exerva, are cosado now.”

Gologok added, “he speaks highly of you. He believes you are uniquely talented.”

I was not sure of that description. “The Fafoaloans are easily impressed.”

Gologok did not laugh, but did say, “We have learned in our studies of Earth humans that those who use humor are more intelligent than usual.”

I had to say it, “the Resjed can also be impressed easily.”

Gologok did laugh this time. Had he, perhaps, impressed his own people easily? I thought to Eloe: Amora, purse your lips if Gologok understood my humor. I casually glanced over at Eloe. Her lips were pursed. I thought: Interesting. He wasn’t laughing simply to be polite.

We took a narrow corridor off the grand corridor to a laboratory in which two Resjed were studying screens full of data. Through a window there were three boxes. Outside one of the boxes a small device was on a stool sized table sitting in a shallow liquid. Wired sensors were in the shallow liquid.

Gologok faced us and nodded through the window into the laboratory. “That is one of the neuro control devices that the Intempla implanted into a vuelan.”

Eloe and I stared through the window at the scene. On our side of the window a Resjed technician was touching a kind of keyboard in front of a screen to search an image that showed colors and objects.

Gologok asked the technician, “are we extracting anything interesting?”

The tech held up her hand to ask us to wait a moment. She began to tap and stroke her finger across the keyboard that had no visible keys. She looked over at us and said, “you must be Kregt and Eloe.”

We nodded to the tech that we were. She gave a quick glance to Gologok and said to us, “we are learning more of the details of the Intempla incursion and we are realizing that your expedition in the dim of Vul likely spared many vuelans their lives. Vuel itself would have been reversed, possibly by generations.”

I was surprised to hear this. Gologok explained, “this is Jennujen, she is our chief intelligence officer.” She noticed our expressions and added, “Captain Jennujen does not exaggerate.”

Gologok assured Captain Jennujen, “they will have a fully operational transport for their return.”

“Officer Jennujen, how did you obtain these devices?”.

She glanced at Gologok and told me, “your friend Aeia’s guard, Murgad, ripped two of these from the skulls they were residing in.” She pointed to the one in the liquid. “This one was removed more carefully so that we could try to extract data from it. I will communicate any further useful information to us through the encrypted radio system in the transport we will be using.”

I looked between Eloe and Captain Jennujen. She was reading more thought from Jennujen.

We exchanged pleasantries while Captain Gologok left the laboratory with us and said goodbye, “we will be glad to have you both back on our Vul orbiter at anytime.”

I took the opportunity to say, “we invite you or any of your staff to visit us in the Great Bay area when we settle there.” Eloe and I walked away toward our room. I couldn’t wait to ask with thought: What did you read from Jennujen?

Eloe was anticipating my thought, and answered in her whisper, “Captain Jennujen thought that the Resjed are glad to have us working with them. She may have asked me if I was telepathic. I was careful to make no reaction.”

In the room we filled our chalices with vinho, relaxed on the bed and found a Resjed travel video to watch. This was a piece of luxury we did not know when we would experience again.

At the end of the sleep period we went went to the excursion and docking vessel. I had awakened long before the end of the sleep period and soon realized that Eloe was as awake as I was. She could read that I was awake and was already reading what I was thinking.

She reached over to touch me. Her hand sought and found my erection. Her soft voice came to me, “I have wondered if you become erect by simply thinking of me.”

I rolled toward her to touch her. Finding the moisture I was expecting. I have wondered if you moisten every time you think of me.

Her answer was two words, “come here.”

I penetrated and held still in her for a moment. Eloe pulled us together, saying, “I am going to miss this light gravity.”

I lifted and looked into her eyes. Why is that?

She answered by clamping my penis with her pelvic muscles, reminding me of what she wanted me to do.

I pulled my pantos on first since the coating was disappearing now that we were in the box. Eloe only had her ves to pull on while I also had my shirt and boots. I thought to Eloe: My pouch of crystals is in my pantos. She smiled her approval. We walked into the open docking bay and saw a pilot waving to us. The transport she was next to was shiny chrome and looked like an air stream trailer.

The pilot was a female Resjed. She smiled, “I am Captain Grellend. Be kind to accept this transport for your use. We are all impressed with your ability to pilot the raw block. We want you to know, that, while you both have talent and amazing balance, we believe that you will find this transport more useful. We want you to use this feature most of the time.”

Captain Grellend touched a fob and the transport became difficult to see. She handed me the fob, “you can see the vehicle because you were already looking at it. Anyone that didn’t know it was there would probably not see it. This fob will recognize four parameters about each of you. It will learn those characteristics and teach them to the recognition program in the transport.” She motioned for us to step into the vehicle. “Once your characteristics are learned, put the fob in its grasp.” She demonstrated how the fob would almost disappear into an interior panel. “You will be the only vuelans able to operate this transport.”

She continued our instructions describing the pilot display and controls, which were unbelievably simple. I used the control handles to lift the vehicle from the floor of the excursion vessel. The Captain approved of my skill, saying, “you should find this more accurate than using balance to navigate.” She paused, and asked, “I have been told that you bumped into a tree and splashed into a lake trying to land the raw block. Is that true?”

I smiled and thought to Eloe: Go ahead and tell her your impressions of our experience.

Eloe was kind with her descriptions. “We firmly hit a tree which I was glad to hit. I wasn’t sure how we were going to stop since we had to point down to go to the ground and this caused us to increase our speed. We used the lake to slow our speed the second time.”

Captain Grellend interrupted, “you used a lake? How far had you gone on that flight?”

We checked with each other. I said, “three horizons?”

Eloe nodded her agreement.

Grellend raised her eyebrows, waved her hand at the transport controls and said, “you will need no further instruction.” She walked out, saying, “I will accompany you in another transport and correct any mistaken commands. This will assure that you reach the lower atmosphere.”

Our transport along with Captain Grellend’s dropped from the opened excursion vehicle which did not detach from the orbiter. Grellend controlled our movements, in her kindness. We felt no sensation of flight in the weightlessness of the orbiting altitude. In a quarter period we noticed the ionized gasses that appeared to be flaming around our transport and Vul’s gravity settled us into our chairs.

Captain Grellend’s voice called to us through the speakers, “you will begin to feel your controls reacting to the stress of gravity and speed. Hold all settings until I suggest you take over.”

I wondered what Grellend meant by that. Eloe read my apprehension but our anxiety was unnecessary. Our descent slowed until we were feeling full gravity.

Grellend’s voice called, “lo Kregt, be kind to take a one quarter bank to your venan.”

I rotated the ellipse and we gently rolled to the left. She called for the same to rechan and we gently rolled to our right. I looked to the screen on the panel as a map appeared. My mind was telling me how this was all working.

Eloe leaned close to the screen, saying, “I recognize what I am seing!”

Grellend called, “you are proficient. I have given you complete pilot control as of a partial period ago. I will now return. The city coming up a quarter to venan is Refurio. We look forward to our cooperation, Lo Kregt, La Eloe.”

We both called back, “loa, Captain.” “Loa Grellend.”

The transport settled into a glide at the two tree altitude. The feel of the flight was as smooth as the raw block though, within this transport, we heard no wind noise. I thought about the science of the anti gravity material and how it sought a preferred altitude. My understanding of these principles was now thorough. We floated above the Camino Rio toward Centium. We could see the wagon groups moving along the road below us. It was good to be back in vuel. Eloe and I were once from Earth, but now, Vul was ours.

My thought went to Eloe: Are you realizing things that you didn’t know and never thought of before?

She said, “it is like Sola has revealed everything in my mind.”

This is amazing. If knowledge is power, we have become all powerful in vuel.

Eloe considered my thought. She put her hand on my shoulder and said, “your perception of our power in vuel is valid.” She stared into my eyes to say, “may Sola guide our every move.”

Exerva 1.2

The trophy vuelessa

from the copyright: There are thoughts from both The Essence of Beauty that Enlivens and Imagination used for creating Joy (Vuelan names: Exerva and Exthius) that are not attributed to either one, but both, by using the plural, we. This is because they became cosada on the planet Fafoaloa and they have a blended consciousness.

This story is told by Ua Exerva

Aeia sent the thought to me concerning Era. I confirmed through Era’s thought that she was alive and in danger. Neither of us could help her. My consciousness was now known as ‘the beauty that enlivens’. My full Fafoaloan name is ‘The Essence of Beauty that Enlivens’. Era may not have understood this, so I sent thought to her calling myself Ua. She read my thoughts as those from Aeia and I did not correct her. It was not important who she thought was guiding her. The message Era received that Renzt was near her was a cognitive process that Imagination used for creating Joy taught to me. I was able to read that she was safe. Her safety was more due to the kindness within Renzt than it was due to me. All I did was tell her to offer to serve the tall vuelo that looked like a teamster who was staring at her.

Aeia was busy with events in Centium. My espo, Imagination used for creating joy, and I had been planning to go to his home planet, Fafoaloa. We delayed our trip. The invasion of vuel by Intempla agents was more pervasive than had been understood. The information from the Fafoaloans was that all of the Intempla invasion apparatus had been removed from this part of the galaxy. While that was true, there were remnants that could be dangerous. Two more Centium vuelans had been identified whose brains had been replaced with implants that the Intempla controlled. The advanced intelligence vuelans were identified when they attacked Murgad. This was a continuation of the self defense program in the implanted logic devices. Murgad had killed the construction supervisor and that made him the target of the remaining Intempla agents. The two Intempla agents that were killed trying to attack Murgad were not highly placed officials like the construction supervisor had been. The situation was now being treated as highly dangerous. It was believed that the construction supervisor’s logic device had sent a signal that triggered other Intempla agents to seek out Murgad. The second agent that attacked Murgad was killed by a Tesar Ranger wearing normal clothing. Murgad and the Ranger were walking about in Centium accompanied by a brave vuela that looked similar to Aeia.

Imagination used for creating joy and I were asked to move about Centium and visit cafes and join gatherings to help identify other Intempla agents. We learned that finding something that does not exist, such as the absence of thought, was going to be difficult. We had been fulfilling this mission for a six or more, when we were in front of a cafe on the Camino Rio, drinking some jav one early brightness. A clear thought came into our consciousness: It is obvious why you call her The Essence of Beauty that Enlivens.

We looked at each other and Imagination used for creating joy began to laugh. He thought: Sola that fills the sky, where have you been hiding?

I noticed a Fafoaloan coming toward us from the Camino Rio. His name was Sola that Fills the Sky. He was long known by Imagination used for creating joy. The two Fafoaloans grasped each other behind their necks to greet each other.

Sola that Fills the Sky thought: I was certain you would turn a serious mission into one of pleasure, I did not imagine how you were going to do it. He stopped his thought as his attention turned to me. I sensed his exploration of my mind. He thought further: As certain as Sola feeds the planets, your consciousness is deeper than the oceans.

Imagination used for creating joy thought: Now you know why I was drawn to her.

Sola that Fills the Sky continued his thought: When I saw her from up the Camino Rio, I thought I understood. Her beauty would draw any vuelo. The depth within her, though, rivals the wake of a planet.

I was not sure what the wake of a planet was. It did sound like a compliment. I offered my thought: You are kind, Sola that Fills the Sky. I read pride in me from my amoro. I sent the thought to him: I like your friend!

The long time friends traded thought about common acquaintances for a moment and Imagination used for creating joy queried in thought: I would have thought you would have returned to Fafoaloa. What is keeping you here on Vul?

Sola that Fills the Sky gave us a sly expression, and thought: Our Resjed friends must advance vuel soon. They have treated vuelans like trained animals for too long and the Intempla came close to destroying vuel. The Resjed will foster a technological transformation in vuel. Vuelans who understand this will become powerful. He then sat back in his chair.

I called to the serving vuela, “la vuela, be kind to bring my friend a cup of jav and would you be kind to bring some fruits to the table.”

Sola that Fills the Sky spoke to me, “You’re beauty is only exceeded by your kindness, which I will gladly accept.”

I thought to Imagination used for creating joy: I like your friend. I knew that he read my thought, also. I was curious and asked Sola that Fills the Sky in thought: Your prediction is probably correct. If it is, do you have knowledge that would be useful to such a transformation?

Sola that Fills the Sky answered in thought: I am reading that you have knowledge of such a transformation. Am I reading correctly?

Imagination used for creating joy joined me in my thought: We have friends that requested such transformation of a Resjed contact. That Resjed agreed that the advancement of vuel should be encouraged and fostered.

Sola that Fills the Sky read our thought: I must ask, are you close to Aeia, the vuelessa of Centium? Are you also a friend of the vuelo named Kregt? He paused, realizing something during his question, and thought: Are these the friends that made the request?

We agreed that he was correct.

Sola that Fills the Sky paused again, looking at both of us, thinking: You are more than close to Aeia and Kregt.

We returned his thought: Yes. We are.

He read more from us and thought: You lived with Aeia. You both were rescued by Kregt. Sola that Fills the Sky was surprised at how closely connected we were.

We wondered: Why are you interested in lo Kregt?

Sola that Fills the Sky returned our thought: I have determined that he is connected to, or manages several businesses in Centium. He also is well connected to the vuelans of the Cadiz. He is also a recent Earth human placement on Vul.

Imagination used for creating joy offered the thought: There are many recent placements from Earth. My Beauty that Enlivens is a recent placement from Earth.

Sola that Fills the Sky motioned to my vuelessa crystals, thinking: That is why she is trained as a vuelessa. He paused and realized more detail: You trained with Aeia! He paused again and thought: You and Aeia and Kregt knew each other on Earth. You were friends on Earth!

Our joined consciousness, again, inquired of him: We don’t understand your interest in lo Kregt. He has already created successful enterprises. While a technological transformation would benefit him, why do you think the Resjed would involve him in such a development?

Sola that Fills the Sky laughed, then thought: Kregt has created new businesses in Vuel. That is exactly the imagination that the Resjed will seek.

While we were sharing thought, we began to hear voices from a distance away on the Camino Rio. The noise grew and vuelans in our cafe began to stand to see what the yelling and cheering was about. We stood up to look up the Camino Rio and saw several vuelen walking along in the street announcing something. We looked at each other as the message became perceptible. We thought to ourselves: There will be a gangfight this sixth and Murgad returns to the estadia!

Cheers and shouting came down the street as five vuelen marched along, each one calling out the announcement after the other. All vuelans began discussing this announcement. The opinions came from all points: “He is rusty, he will be killed.” “A rusty Murgad is yet greater than most.” “Who would fight Murgad?” “They have found someone that thinks he can kill Murgad.” “They have found someone that has lost his mind!” “I want to see it.” “All of Centium wants to see Murgad fight again.”

The discussion shifted after a few moments. The crowd around us calmed and other questions were heard: “Murgad is vuelessa Aeia’s personal guard. Why is she allowing this?” “Aeia surely has arranged this gangfight.” “Aeia is trying to lift the spirit of Centium.” “She has lifted my spirits!”

One of the vuelas in the cafe looked over at me and called, “Vuelessa, do you know Aeia? Do you know if she is promoting the gangfight?”

A vuelo also called to me, “Yes, vuelessa, tell us. Is this the work of Aeia?”

Most of the vuelans in the cafe were looking at me now, along with a few from the street. I looked at them all and lowered my head. I raised up to see them all waiting for my answer. I held up my hand up to ask for their patience and sent thought to Aeia: My Aeia, have you arranged a gangfight for Murgad?

A moment passed while I, and everyone close by waited for me to answer. Aeia’s thought came to me clearly. I replayed her thought in my mind to verify, and raised my eyes to the eager crowd. I spread my arms and announced: “YES! There will be a gangfight at the river estadia at the peak of Sola on the sixth. Murgad and his vuelen will face all challengers.”

The vuelans hearing me raised their arms into the air and cheered, calling “AH! AH! AH! AH!”

Imagination used for creating joy and I, along with Sola that Fills the Sky thought: Aeia must believe that Intempla agents yet exist, and she is arranging a trap.

We had left our mionomog suite in the Yuko Tower, where we had celebrated becoming cosado. The suite had also been our base of operation for gathering information on the Intempla invasion. We were invited to stay in a large villa on the upper bank of the Yuko. We could live here as long as we offered service to Centium. The villa was part of a compound that had been owned by one of the traitorous families that had unwittingly believed they were being protected from annihilation by the Intempla. They, and the other families like them were banished from Centium on penalty of impalement. My amoro and I shared a bungalow on the property that was well furnished. It appeared that the vuelans living here expected to return in a six or so. Every time we let this cold thought of what these families had kept to themselves we strained to grasp the reasoning. These wealthy families had everything to lose. Why would they allow vuel to be destroyed around them?

Aeia was correct to appeal to the merciful instincts of vuel. The traitorous actions of the families was explainable. They were too easily duped. I traded thought on the subject with Imagination used for creating joy. His thought came to me: No, this does not make sense to me either. There is another factor that we are not realizing.

I asked in thought: You access the thought of the Fafoaloans here. Are we are missing something that pertains to this issue? My amoro considered my question for a moment. The moment was long enough that I could tell he was receiving extensive data.

He thought to me: Ask Aeia if she has scanned the patriarchs of the families to determine if they may have been neurologically converted into agents for the Intempla.

I was not sure of the purpose of this inquiry, but sent thought to Aeia: My Aeia, have you scanned the traitorous families to determine if any of them are Intempla agents.

Aeia answered immediately: My Beauty that Enlivens, that is why you and your amoro have been asked to seek Intempla agents. Within the eighteen families, thirteen of the patriarchs and four of the espas were neurologically converted to Intempla agents. I was able to discover this because Dekt was suspicious and asked me to try to read thought from each family member, including the kids.

I was unable to react to what I had heard from Aeia. Imagination used for creating joy spoke to me, “amora, amora?”

I said, “Aeia.” Then I thought: Aeia said most of the patriarchs of the families and some of the espas had been neurologically converted.

Imagination used for creating joy paused. I read that he was consulting the Fafoaloan memory of Intempla incursions. He shook his head. This is new. Strangely new. The Intempla, in their history, have not changed their strategy. This is different. They have altered their scheme and we do not know why or what the purpose is.

Imagination used for creating joy and I increased our efforts over the following brightnesses to identify the lack of thought in a passing vuelan. It was tiring, stressful work and vinho was little help. One activity was helpful to us to be able to shift our attentions away from the stress. We amoriged two and often three times each brightness. Afterward, our joined consciousness would replay our orgasmic experience. This controlled the stress, giving us the serenity to seek the possibility of an Intempla agent.

The next brightness Aeia sent thought to me: My Essence of Beauty that Enlivens, I request your aid in a matter of the vuel of Centium.

My consciousness is joined with Imagination used for creating joy so we received her thought as one. I observed to him: She must have news of the Intempla agents. I answered her: We are privileged to have the vuelessa of Centium enter our mind this brightness!

Aeia laughed, thinking: I am thrilled that you have such joy and it eases my request of your service.

Now my brow wrinkled. I thought back to her: Why do I read anxiety in your thoughts?

Aeia tried to calm my misgiving: There is no need for concern, my Essence of Beauty that Enlivens.

Thought occurs instantly. Imagination used for creating joy and I read that Aeia was anxious about what she wanted to ask. I sent firm thought to her: Aeia, be assured that I will help, tell me how I can assist you.

Aeia sent the full explanation in her next thought: You have heard the calls in the lanes that Murgad will return to the Gang fights this coming sixth. This gangfight with Murgad is an artifice to attract the neuro enhanced vuelans to the estadia. We believe there is an Intempla agent that is directing the attacks and this agent is a trained gang fighter. Their attacks have been aimed at Murgad more than my decoy. We want to offer them the perfect opportunity to attack Murgad.

We had been unable to identify any of the neuro enhanced. We thought to her: That is a good plan. How many neuro enhanced vuelans do you think yet exist?

Aeia thought back: Our sources have been unable to help us with the number. Murgad, walking in Centium with a decoy vuela that is similar to me have been attacked three times.

Imagination used for creating joy and I wondered what help I could provide at a gangfight. Aeia, what help can I give you at a gangfight?

There was a pause in the thought stream. We waited, Aeia sent her request: I must offer a vuelessa as the prize to the winners.

Imagination used for creating joy and I considered this in our mind. I asked in thought: What does the prize do for the winners?

Aeia returned my thought: The winner, if he is able, carries the prize from the stadium.

I read more from her thought: And?

Aeia’s clarification was instantaneous: In this case, other vuelas will be awarded for use by the victors.

I had one more query: What is the chance that Murgad will be victorious?

Aeia laughed her thought: One thousand percent!

Imagination used for creating joy reminded me that there was no such chance as one thousand percent and that this action carried risk. I reminded him that I was a vuelessa and assured Aeia: I will be the finest trophy that has ever been awarded in a gangfight.

Late brightness of the fifth brought a rain shower that washed the dust away in Centium. Sola shined again and I boarded a wagon to be pulled along with the Vuelos calling the crowd to come to the gang fights. This wagon had a low railing surrounding it. Large rings were pegged into the floor in four places to hold looped cords running to my ankles and wrists. Strands of gold and silver crystals had been attached and blended into my hair, which had been combed and teased into a mane that exploded away from my face.

Colored oils gave my eyes excitement and emphasized my lips. White, silver and blue were used to accentuate the crystals of my vuelessa necklace. This was important. The awarding of a vuelessa gave the gangfight official recognition. The colored oils were the only covering on my body. A piece of supporting fabric adhered to and was painted under my breasts, providing lift and emphasis to the red oil on my aureoles. Deep gold highlighted with white and bordered with reddish brown swept up my legs providing the illusion that I was a glimmering trophy. A deep red V edged with black and highlighted with silver extended from the peak of my labia over my belly, completing the vision that I was to present to the vuel of Centium.

The cords, tied loosely on my ankles and wrists, were there to give the appearance that I was a trophy being delivered to the estadia. Vuelans called and shouted from the lanes as soon as I came into view. The vuelen followed my wagon calling “This vuelessa will be awarded to the victors!” “Who will claim this vuelessa?” “Murgad returns to the estadia!” “Will Murgad claim this vuelessa?” “This vuelessa will be awarded to the victors on the sixth brightness!” “Will Murgad claim this vuelessa?” “Next brightness, Murgad returns to the estadia!” “The River estadia at high Sola!”

The vuelen in the lanes could not break their attention from me as I was wheeled by them. My cords were loose enough that I was able to move about as I wished. I waved and bowed and took stances and stretched to demonstrate that I was an active participant in my subjugation to the gang fighters. I pulled at my cords anxiously. I wanted to be the trophy for the victors!

Vuelen would call out to me, “will you serve the victor well, vuelessa?”

I would call back to them, “if I could break free I would serve you, lo vuelo!” More than a few vuelen tried to climb onto my wagon bed and had to be repelled by the caller vuelen walking with the wagon. I would gesture to the repelled vuelos of my regret that I was unable to serve them.

The broadcast run ended on an adjacent lane from where we had begun and my wagon was pulled into the building on the side lane that we had come from. Imagination used for creating joy was waiting there for me and smiled as I came in, thinking to me: All of Centium has been set aflame because of my Trophy Vuelessa!

I wondered if he could read my arousal after exciting so many vuelen in the lanes. His answer echoed in my brain: Can you read my arousal, amora?

The River estadia in Centium is open air and smaller than a city stadium would usually be on Earth. Imagination used for creating joy and I had walked by the outside of the estadia before. It allows viewing by only a few thousand vuelans. There is a rise of the embankment on the side away from the Yuko river that allows thousands more to see the estadia floor without paying admission.

We awoke, having slept well. We had amoriged into the dim. The colored oils had dried into my skin and only slight amounts had rubbed off in the bed sheets. I sensed that Aeia was waiting for me to awaken. I walked to the window in our bedroom. The early brightness clouds were glowing pink and gray. I opened my thought: Aeia, I am awake.

She was there, waiting for me: My Essence of Beauty that Enlivens. Be kind to know that the wagon will leave to bring you to the River estadia by early mid brightness. You and Imagination used for creating joy will be celebrated at the estadia. I will have instructions for you at that time.

I read that Imagination used for creating joy was awake too and read his message. I turned to see him gaze at me. My body was all his mind could consider. Our consciousness said: Yes, we have time. I took a couple of steps toward him while thinking: I do not need a loe stem for lubrication.

My amoro thought: You are my trophy. He threw the sheet away to reveal his erection. Our consciousness agreed: Yes, This will be enjoyable.

I lowered myself onto him, feeling the crooked tip of his Fafoaloan penis as I did so.

The wagon moved through the crowds on the lanes. The Centium Guard had been called into action for this event. The guards were necessary to help our wagon through the throngs of vuelans who were also on their way to the estadia.

Vuelans called out as we passed, “look! The vuelessa trophy!” “I told you she was real.”

The vuelen walking with my wagon called to the crowd, “this is the vuelessa trophy. She will be awarded to the victors! Allow passage to the vuelessa trophy!”

We entered the River estadia and the large gates closed behind us. It would be periods before the mid brightness contests. My cords were removed and I was ushered, along with Exthius up several sets of stairs to a concourse located on a high level of the estadia.

Aeia was waiting for me. She ran to me and knelt down in front of me. Quickly, I went to my knees with her. We embraced as her mind connected to mine: Ua, Beauty that Enlivens, I love you as my sister. With this thought, Aeia’s sister, Oseio, entered my mind. I marveled at how real our meeting was. This was how real Oseio was in Aeia’s consciousness and now Oseio was real for me, so real that her thought came to me: My Aeia is fortunate to have you for her friend, Beauty That Enlivens. The two of you are becoming the influential force in vuel that vuelessas were supposed to be. Vuel is grateful for you.

My thoughts asked Aeia: Is that?

Aeia gave me full explanation: There is much culture and history that I do not know. Oseio guides me in these matters. It was her idea for you to be the vuelessa trophy and she was right. I began reading the excitement in the lanes of Centium about you last brightness.

Tallan, from the council of commerce, came up to us as we rose. He assessed me, saying, “I was told of the vuelessa trophy last brightness and was sure the descriptions could not be that fantastic, but they are!”

Gald was there, along with most of the council and a couple of the magistrates. Everyone came up to us to express their appreciation for our, especially my, participation in this brightnesses event.

Aeia sent me instructions while nearly every vuelan on the concourse took their turn assessing me and my presentation and complementing me. I began to read a concern from Aeia. This involved a member of the council that Aeia did not favor. Aeia’s instruction and background information on gang fights and what we were trying to accomplish this brightness continued for much of a period. She answered my questions, reminding me that there are details that she may not know.

The disfavored council member came up to us. I read from him that he had waited until he perceived that Aeia was finished with her instructions to me. Aeia turned to him and introduced me. “Lo Nargut, be kind to wish the brightness of Sola to my sister vuelessa, Exerva. Exerva, this is a council member that I have high regard for, lo Nargut.”

I began to kneel for lo Nargut when he grabbed my hand, lifting me and said, “Be kind to remain standing. It is obvious that you serve us all. Yes, I am counting on the brightness of Sola to shine on this endeavor.” He turned and walked away, saying no more.

I traded thought with Aeia: What a strange vuelo.

I looked out over the window ledge of the concourse. The crowd was already filling the estadia. Aeia and I walked forward until we could see the rise behind the estadia on which any vuelan could gather to see the event. We thought at once: This is amazing. There were easily a thousand vuelans gathered on the rise. All of Centium was coming to see what will happen in the estadia this brightness.

I watched from the shadow of the door to the estadia floor. I was behind many of the gang fighters. I could see because I was already corded atop a wagon that would wheel me out to a platform where I would be displayed during the gangfight.

When they would assess me I would call to the gang fighters, “win and I will serve you.” I was protected in this tunnel by two well armed guards. They guarded me from the fearsome gang fighters. These vuelen wore pads on their forearms and thighs. Helmets were tied under their chins. Thick leather flaps skirted their groins. Something had to be holding their penis and testicles up between their legs. A crisscrossed breastwork covered them in front and in back. They carried no weapons. Observing their frightening expressions, I didn’t ask about weapons.

Leaning down, I could see a pedestal on the wall separating the floor from the grandstands. Aeia was on the pedestal waving in the other direction. Loud cheers were heard as the other team of gang fighters ran onto the estadia floor. Cheering filled our tunnel. I turned to see Murgad come into the tunnel to join the gang fighters.

He stopped at the front of the team and called to them, “fight the vuelo in front of you! He is your only enemy. When you drop him, only then do you look for a new opponent!”

He had given an important strategy to his team. Now, they waited to receive the call to run onto the field. In another moment, a vuelo at the door of our tunnel called to Murgad and his team, “take the field! Take the field!”

The gang fighters ran out of the tunnel into the estadia. Cheering thundered through the estadia. This was giving me a horrible feeling. I feared that I would look ridiculous or, at the least, out of place among the gang fighters in the estadia floor. I was held back a few moments while the cheering subsided.

The vuelo at the door called, “present the trophy!” I read that he was repeating this call for me.

Four vuelen pushed the flatbed wagon with me corded to it’s floor out of the tunnel. I braced myself against the cords to remain upright. The cheers of the crowd in the estadia went quiet momentarily, then became as loud as the cheers for the gang fighters. My nerves were overcome with adrenaline. I raised my arms up and out as the cords allowed and arched my body like the trophy I was supposed to be.

Aeia’s thought echoed in my head: You are the finest trophy vuelessa that Centium has ever seen!

I looked ahead. Aeia was on her pedestal in the grandstand motioning to me. She was directing the attention of the estadia to the trophy vuelessa. Vul was so different. There was no public address system in the estadia. The crowd seemed to know what to expect.

My wagon stopped on the estadia floor and my cords were loosened. I stepped onto a low platform that was a few lengths away from the grandstand. Aeia had told me what to do. I faced her and looked up to the crowd. I placed my feet at shoulder width and swept my arms up on each side and touched my finger tips over my head, stretching my body into a bow.

Aeia called out to the crowd, “the vuelessa trophy!” Then I saw vuelans around the estadia standing and repeating her announcement. This was the public address system! The announcements continued around the estadia, I broke my position and stretched my arms and body up in four directions, bringing AH’s from all parts of the estadia.

Aeia had told me to what to do next. I pointed with both hands to the rise above the estadia. I continued to point for a moment. The cheering poured into the estadia from the vuelans on the rise. When I began to hear it I stretched up and held my pose until the cheering from the rise diminished. Now I turned back to Aeia. She announced the teams to the cheers of the crowd. She announced the captains of both teams. The crowds became frenzied when she announced the second team captain, Murgad. The noise level I heard up until this time was loud, but now it was deafening. I faced Aeia and waited for the noise level to drop completely. She motioned to me. I turned and motioned to the pile of weapons between the two teams. There were boo poles and a T shaped weapon piled up in the middle of the estadia floor.

They acknowledged that I was providing weapons. Aeia had told me to pause while I looked at each captain. I did so and the first team captain lifted a two hand length spike from his belt. I looked to Murgad. He did the same. The team captains were the only fighters allowed to carry the long spikes.

I raised and extended my arms out and looked at both of the captains again to see them nod to me. The estadia was silent. I began to count. My mind whirled. This is vuel. The vuelans of Centium have come to see a contest. This contest has no pretext of having a ball on the field. There are no official vuelen to control the violence. This was a raw contest. This was a gangfight. My count reached seven. I swung my outstretched arms forward to clap my hands as loud as I could. The snap was loud and echoed into the estadia. The gang fighters, seventeen on each side, ran to the middle of the floor to pick up the weapons and attack each other.

Now I was afraid, seriously afraid of what might happen. I was steps away from the violence of vuelen trying to maim, injure, or even kill each other. I wanted to run. Aeia’s thought was loud in my consciousness: Do not move! Stay on your platform!

She could read my terror. I shut my eyes but not quick enough to miss seeing a boo pole knock blood, spit and an eye from a fighter’s head. When I opened my eyes the fighter was a heap on the dirt a couple of lengths from my platform. The violence was all around the estadia floor now. I dared not leave my platform. There was an official vuelo on the floor near me. He looked at the fighter in the dirt and determined that he was either dead or that there was no help that could be offered. The official walked away from the limp fighter. Only then did I notice that the fallen fighter’s helmet was yellow. Murgad’s team helmets were yellow.

I frantically looked across the estadia floor to see another fighter on the dirt. He was alive and crawling away. The fighter that felled him let him retreat. This was the rule. If a fighter did not rise, he was to be allowed to quit.

A loud crack jerked my attention to my right. A fighter’s boo pole had cracked on the forearm shield of a yellow helmeted fighter. This gave the yellow fighter a momentary advantage as he jammed his boo pole into the face of the red helmeted fighter. The red fighter staggered back and dropped the broken pole. He turned to run but the yellow fighter was ready for this and used his pole to trip the red fighter. The yellow fighter slammed the injured red fighter across his back, preventing him from regaining his feet. The yellow fighter pounded his opponent until the red fighter lifted a hand. This stopped the blows. The red fighter was aloud to crawl away. I looked back across the estadia to see that there were nine or ten fighters sitting against the estadia grandstand wall. They were out of the contest. They were, at least, alive. I checked the yellow fighter near my platform. Blood was pooling at his mouth. I wanted to throw up.

In the middle of the estadia floor Murgad swung a boo pole in each hand to keep three red fighters at bay. He did not appear to be exerting himself. One of his opponents was obviously injured. I wondered if this was a strategy. Even an injured opponent would require a minimum of defense. Murgad’s skill was obvious. He was not challenged by these three fighters.

A message came into my mind. I need your help. Where did this thought come from? I scanned the estadia floor. There was no fighter looking toward me at all. I dismissed the thought.

Then it repeated and became more specific: You must help me with the Pua clan. This is Era. Vuel needs your specific help.

I couldn’t believe I was receiving this thought in the middle of a gangfight! I will connect with you soon. It was the only thought I could send at this moment.

There were several more fighters down now. The injured and beaten fighters leaned against the grandstand wall. More than one may have been worse than simply injured by the manner in which they were against the wall. I frantically counted to see who was leading the contest when my attention was taken by another loud crack. I spun around to see that the same yellow fighter had used his forearm shield to break another red fighter’s boo pole. This red fighter had a second boo pole in his other hand but was out of position for an instant. The yellow fighter swung with his body catching the red fighter at his knee. The red fighter tried to turn but was too late to save his knee from being painfully dislocated. The red fighter fell but did not stay down. He did not rise all the way, either. While trying to rise, he was pummeled by both of the yellow fighter’s poles slamming into his helmet repeatedly from both sides. The red fighter fell forward. This time, he did not move. The official vuelo came to him and determined that he was alive, perhaps. A white cloth was tied around his arm at the elbow, taking him out of the contest. The yellow fighter looked for another opponent. He selected a fight he wanted to join but before he went toward that skirmish, he turned and smiled at me!

I put my hand on my heart and motioned him back into the fray. He paused, maybe for inspiration, then turned toward another opponent. Cheering grew louder in the estadia. Shrieks were heard as a fighter was thrown into the air in the area where Murgad was fighting. I saw the yellow fighter run to that place. The gangfight was now between five or six successful fighters on each side. I did not know how the fighters were yet able to be effective. Those remaining in the contest were tremendously strong.

The yellow fighter immediately felled a red fighter that was the equal of his yellow opponent. The yellow fighter stepped back to catch his breath while his yellow team held an advantage. The fighters in the contest at this point were skilled and seasoned. The contest wore on with one of each team falling to the side and leaving the fray.

Cheering came from around the estadia and continued to increase as the contest wore on. The crowd seemed to know the contest was winding toward a conclusion. Another loud crack took my attention. The yellow fighter had once again used his special move, quickly following through to drop a red opponent.

The estadia erupted in cheering. Was it over? The yellow team held a five to two advantage.

Now Murgad yelled, “hold!”

The fighters stopped. The estadia hushed. I wondered what was happening.

Murgad said to the red captain, “I will fight one of you for conclusion.”

There was a pause. I read from the red captain that he was waiting for something. This was planned! The red captain was pausing pruposely! The other red fighter had no thought stream! I screamed out, “he is Intempla!” I yelled and pointed from my platform. I screamed as I ran toward the fighters, “he is Intempla!” All of the yellow fighters, along with the red captain, looked at me pointing toward them. The trophy vuelessa is not supposed to yell at the gangfighters and jump down from her pedestal.

The red fighter that was Intempla did not notice me at all. Murgad’s full attention was now focused on that red fighter. The red captain stepped back as his team gang fighter drew a spike from under his belt and charged toward Murgad. The crowd screamed, seeing the action of the red gang fighter.

Murgad anticipated this attack. He knew the red captain, so this fighter had to be the Intempla agent.. The attacker continued his forward motion while Murgad batted the spike out of his hand. The attacker’s momentum was only stopped as Murgad drove a spike up under his chin, lifting him from the dirt floor of the estadia. The crowd around the estadia were on their feet and burst into cheers. I looked up at the vuelans on the rise. They were standing and cheering and waving their arms. They seemed to understand what had happened. Did they know there would be an Intempla agent in the gangfight? Did they know that this gangfight was set up to expose an Intempla agent?

The crowd did not know about Aeia’s scheme. They were cheering the vicious kill that ended the fight.

I stood in the dirt, watching from only lengths away. Blood gushed from the Intempla agent’s neck as he was lifted from the dirt. Murgad ripped the red helmet off the head and was about to crack open the skull when he paused and looked toward Aeia. I looked at her too. She was holding up both her hands as if to say stop. She wanted the attacker’s brain left intact.

Murgad gently put the body on the ground where it gushed blood from where the head was torn away from the neck.

The red gang fighter captain said to Murgad, “this is a good way to find a traitor to vuel.”

Murgad looked at the body that continued to drain it’s blood into the dirt. He nodded to the red captain, telling him, “yes, Greteld, I enjoyed this contest, I’m glad that I did not have to fight you.”

Greteld, the red captain now looked at me with an odd expression. The other gang fighters were looking strangely at me also. Suddenly I went to my knees and threw up. I had surely seen too much blood and gore. I was picked up, and held over someone’s head with my body bowed, facing Sola. I was able to see that it was Murgad that was carrying me toward the tunnel. The crowd in the estadia was standing and cheering. Murgad was accepting his trophy with his fellow gang fighters following us. I felt horribly sick. I thought I was going to throw up again. I tried to hold myself rigid with my arms outstretched. Centium wanted to see the trophy vuelessa being carried off to be amoriged. Their perception would be satisfied, through Murgad’s real purpose was to remove me from the estadia before I became sick again.

Exerva 1.3

I must return to the Pua

This story is told by Ua Exerva

The Intempla threat was effectively removed from Centium with the death of the advanced intelligence gang fighter. Aeia was informed of these details by the Resjed, who were able to extract data from some of the neuro devices that had been removed from the Intempla operatives. The gang fighter was the enforcer in the organization on Vul. He was the most dangerous. The data was extracted from the neuro device during analysis by the Resjed.

During the following brightnesses there were no further attacks on the vuela that was Aeia’s decoy who walked through Centium with Murgad. Aeia was becoming more at ease. The colored oils faded from my skin

I shared thought with Era concerning the details of my experiences with the Pua clan, explaining my knowledge of the background of Zed and his father, Davot. While it was a tragedy that Zed had been killed, the tragedy was unavoidable. Era was correct to try to prevent a much larger tragedy. I assured her that I would do anything to support vuel.

I began to try to reach Eloe. She and Kregt left Casa Lago so they would not cause any possible conflict in the vuel of Centium. I knew Kregt’s intent was to go to the Great Bay. I was unable to send or receive messaging with Eloe for several brightnesses when I asked Aeia what she thought the problem was.

Aeia returned my thought quickly: I beg your kindness, my Essence of Beauty that Enlivens. I was informed by the Resjed that Eloe and Kregt are guests of the Resjed. Eloe may be unable to read your thought as usual. I will try to help you contact them.

I joined consciousness with Imagination used for creating joy. I thought: Kregt and Eloe are guests of the Resjed. This has been many brightnesses now. Is there a purpose?

My amoro returned my thought: We will assume that they are on the Resjed orbiting vehicle. If that assumption is valid, then they are likely receiving knowledge.

With his answer I understood the details of the concept of receiving knowledge. I also realized that I already possessed the ability to gain any knowledge I wanted. Then, with the slightest effort, data began occurring to me. It mostly came from my amoro. It also came from others that I did not know. Imagination used for creating joy smiled at my realization. I asked with my thought: Were you going to tell me of this?

He returned my thought: I cannot tell you of such but you must ask for yourself. I knew you would begin to have this ability and in time, you would ask me about it.

I sat back, relaxed and took in tremendous amounts of data. I held up my hand. My amoro put a chalice of vinho in it for me. I realized that Eloe and Kregt would be back to help me before the next forty third. I sent thought to Eloe to tell her what day of the rotation it was and that I am requesting assistance that she and Kregt can provide.

It was a few brightnesses later, during the forty second, which was the sixth brightness of the six, I became aware that Eloe and Kregt were on their way to meet me. I also understood that they had left the Resjed orbiting vessel. It was mid brightness when Eloe sent thought to me: My Exerva, Kregt and I are less than a period away from Centium. Be kind to tell me where we can meet you.

I was relieved to receive her message and replied: Do you need to wait until the dim?

Eloe replied: That is not necessary. Kregt is asking if we can meet on the roof of your building.

My amoro was in my consciousness with me. We understood what Kregt was asking us to do, and why. We thought to Eloe: Your transport is metasurface camouflaged. Kregt must be thrilled.

Eloe begged in thought: With your eternal kindness, do not ruin Kregt’s surprise for you.

Our consciousness giggled. We replied: Be calm, we will behave accordingly.

I gave Eloe our location. She seemed to be looking at an aerial image of my description and assured me that they knew where we were. During our telepathy I found that Eloe had extensive knowledge of the geography of Vul.

Imagination used for creating joy thought to me: You will find that the ability to absorb knowledge from those around you is valuable for many subjects of understanding.

We thought to Eloe was that we lived in a casa in a group of casas and that ours had a yard in back and it would be good to meet them in that yard. My amoro and I went outside to the back yard of the casa and waited.

Soon, we read that Eloe and Kregt were seeing us from above. We looked up and could see no transport. We thought: The metasurface camouflage works well in the sky. As the transport descended we were able to see the blur when it crossed our sight horizon. A shadow formed on the grasses in the yard as it nestled a few lengths from us. A door appeared to open from nowhere and Eloe stepped into our yard. She joined consciousness with us. The amount of knowledge available within her cognizance took my breath away. My amoro put his arm around me. He was also surprised at the quantity.

She walked toward us, reading our amazement. She sent her thought: You should read it from this side!

We laughed with Eloe. We are amazed at your intellect and relieved that you have arrived here safely. We envy your experience with the Resjed on the orbiting vessel.

Kregt stepped out of the transport door. Eloe turned to him. He looked at all three of us and said, “do not pretend to be surprised.”

Eloe said quickly, “I did not tell them!”

Kregt laughed, shaking his head and pointed at Imagination used for creating joy, saying to him, “you already know about this technology, and I know there is no way to keep a secret from any of you!”

I went to my knees and lowered my head. I lifted, though I did not drop my ves. Before I could say anything Kregt said to me, “be kind to tell me that we do not have to go to the Pua and get someone away from them, again.”

Imagination used for creating joy laughed at this, remembering that Kregt had purchased me from the Pua clan. I quickly said, “no. That is not it. You do not even have to be seen. It would probably be better if you were not seen at all!”

It had taken most of a brightness to run through trails from the Pua village to the mountain meadow where Kregt purchased me from the Pua trader, Suradad. It took the rest of the long Vul brightness for the wagon pulled by a team of zebry to come down from the mountains into the Yuko river plain and then to drive into Refurio. Our trip this brightness had taken only a couple of periods to float over Refurio. Eloe said we would be over the Pua village before mid brightness. Eloe’s knowledge of geography was essential to Kregt and to me on this venture. My amoro, Imagination used for creating joy remained in Centium to join cognizance meetings with his Fafoaloan operatives to consider how Intempla strategy may be evolving.

We floated above the Pua lands. Eloe pointed and said, “there it is! That is the pass from the Cadiz into the mountain meadow.”

Kregt banked the float and flew a wide circle over the area. He asked Eloe, “why is the forest only at one end of the pass, could there have been a fire some annaros ago?”

She answered, “That is probably the reason. The forest that remains is a serious barrier.”

We stared at the forest from the sky. I became aware of Eloe’s thought as she said to Kregt, “Look, there is an area that the forest is not as dense.”

Kregt said, “I see it.”

I was glad to see this. This knowledge was going to make my task easier. Kregt took the transport out of the circle we were in and we headed for the Pua village.

The village, I remembered, was in a canyon that had a river running through it. The river, in the distant past, had carved deep cavernous structures into the canyon walls and these shallow caverns were where most of the Pua clan lived. Eloe knew where the canyon was in relation to the Yuko River and to the mountain meadow that we flew over.

Mid brightness would occur soon and Kregt floated to an area above the canyon to find the High rock that the vuelessa Era had described. I had seen this rock from the canyon floor. I was not sure what it would look like from above.

We floated slowly over the canyon now. The Pua vuelas washed clothing in the river just as they always do. There were some vuelen working on sharpening spears and stone implements. I saw the high rock and said to Kregt, “there! That is it. Do you see it?”

Kregt answered, “I’m glad we’re floating to the top. Is that a walkway I see along the side?”

He described a narrow carved out ledge that twisted up to the top of the rock. “Yes, that’s what they use to get to the top.” Then I saw Davot come around the side of the ledge. “That’s Davot! That is him going up right now.”

Kregt floated to a position at the top of the rock opposite where the ledge walkway reached the tabletop. He rested the transport at the edge. “When he steps onto the top surface, we’ll open the door and you step out. That will impress him.”

“I don’t want to scare him off the rock.”

Kregt laughed, “no, we don’t want him jumping off the rock. Maybe you should get out first and let him come upon you?”

I agreed with the second plan. I stood on the rock in front of the camouflaged transport and waited. Momentarily, Davot stepped onto the surface of the high rock. He must not have realized that it was me standing here. He stared, saying nothing. I read that he was unsure if I was real.

I stepped forward, “yes. I am real.” I went to my knees and unlatched my ves and presented myself as vuelessa.

When I lifted my eyes, Davot held his hand out and said, “if you are real and not only a vision, come and touch me.”

Swiftly, I went up to him, took his hand and put it on my breast. I saw his relief that I was real. I leaned forward and bessed him. During my bess, I gently touched his penis, feeling his growing erection. He took me by my shoulders, saying, “it is you. You are real.”

“I am real and I serve you, as always.”

Davot’s eyes narrowed. “How did you come to be here?”

I am a vuelessa. I am only allowed to tell the truth. Opening my arms, I said, “the gods brought me to you.” This was somewhat true. The transport was given to Kregt by the Resjed. “I bring guidance for you. I am sent to you because you already know I bring truth. I bring truth to you now.”

I lowered my head to continue, “your son has been taken from the clan. I also bring the sorrow of all vuel to you.” I read that he had other sons! His other sons wanted to attack the Cadizans. Davot was not a fool. He realized from Suradad’s report that the Cadizans have new weaponry that his clan could not match. His leadership of the clan was being questioned. Suradad told him of the cattle the the Cadizans would give his clan and of the fee for safe passage that would be paid by each wagon on the Cadiz to Refurio road. He was skeptical of these offers. He didn’t believe it would be possible for cattle to be brought to the mountain meadow.

I read further into his memory. Pua lore told of a great fire that drove many hoofed animals into the nets of the Pua hunters and the flesh of those animals fed the clan for annaros. This fire also created the mountain meadow for wild animals to graze in and made it easier for the Pua to hunt successfully.

I looked into Davot’s eyes and said, “The same fire in Pua lore, the fire that created the mountain meadow, almost opened the meadow to the Cadizan grasslands. There is only a small forest in the foothills that prevents the vast Cadizan cattle herds from wandering all the up to the Pua mountain meadow on their own.”

Davot stopped me, “how do you know this?”

I read that Davot knew this was true. I smiled, “I have seen it and you have seen it too.”

During this exchange I was wondering what I could do to help Davot convince his clansmen to accept the truth he would bring them. I read that there were two vuelen that, if convinced, the clan would trust them. I said to him, “signal Zun and Pel. Tell them to come up here.”

This made sense to Davot and he went to the edge of the rock and made some signals. He looked down until he was satisfied that Zun and Pel were climbing up the ledge. Davot looked at me. He wanted to amorig me and he did not want to amorig me at the same time.

“My amoro, we cannot be like we were before, ever again.”

Davot nodded, thinking that he was fortunate that I had not taken his mind away from him. He was sure I was, at least, a sorceress. He believed that I was sent by the gods, but he also thought I was a sorceress.

Zun and Pel climbed onto the table rock top and were surprised to see me. I said, “Zun, you walked behind me on the safari, remember?” I turned around to show him my behind. I was sure he would recognize it.

Pel said it for him, “yes, Zun, you recognize her tail, and I recognize the sorceress by her face.”

“I have told Davot the truth during this brightness. The vuelessa Era told Suradad the truth. The fate of the Pua clan depends on you, Zun and Pel. You must also believe the truth.”

I read that Pel wanted to ask me how I came to the top of the rock. I said to him, “I was brought to the top of this rock by the gods so that I could assure you that what you have been told is true. The Pua clan must live with the Cadizans.”

The thoughts from Zun and Pel agreed with me. They knew weapons. They knew they must accept the offer of a new life. When their eyes returned to mine, I told them, “I must leave now.” I turned to go to the door of the transport.

Zun said to me, “Ua, will we see you again?”

Turning back I looked into each of their eyes, “if the Pua need my help. Think of me, and I will come to you.” I knew that Eloe was reading closely. I turned and stepped toward the door and she opened it for me. I crawled into the transport. Eloe pulled the door shut as Kregt moved slowly away. We watched Davot look up, trying to see where I went while Zun and Pel went to their hands and knees and look over the edge of the rock. We floated away as they searched the sky for me.

I looked down at the canyon and the Pua village while we floated away. I had lived on that canyon floor. For a time, I thought I might always live there. Now I was floating away in the sky above the canyon. I thought to myself, How strange and different vuel can be on this planet.

We floated away toward Refurio. The canyon of the Pua clan was a small place. It was insignificant to vuel. Yet, I cared about what would happen with the Pua vuelans.

Perception, I remembered. Perception is everything.

Loee .5

I join the criminal horde

This story is told by Loee

Brudge slowed the wagon on the road returning to Lukatch. Sola was now low in the sky. I left Hethio and Chelcht in the village at the Mazo road. I had not gained anything from my experience that would be useful in ending the conflict between the Zigene and Lukatsic vuelans. I looked ahead to see a wagon coming toward us on the road. Thought came to me from Talvik that he was in the wagon coming this way. I heard him call to my driver to halt.

Talvik sent thought to me when I looked up from the wagon bed that I should ride with him.

“You are kind, lo Brudge, I must switch to the Ranger’s wagon to ride back with him.”

The rough looking teamster laughed, “I’ll give you that he is better looking, vuelessa.”

“You are better at driving a wagon, lo Brudge.” He acted surprised that I had complimented him. I reached up and touched his wrist on the zebry reins and smiled at him, saying, “you have been kind to me, lo Brudge.” I climbed over to Talvik’s wagon.

Talvik thought to me: Where did you leave the vuela?

I spoke softly, “she is with her amoro in the village at the Mazo road. Brudge told me that the village at the Mazo road would not be recognized as a village. It was more of a campground.”

Talvik thought: It is a stopping place for travelers. It is not a place that you should stay through the dim without weapons.

“I left Hethio and her amoro, Chelcht at the Mazo, which is what they called that place. I do not fear for them, Chelcht is a large vuelo who carries a weapon.”

I did not tell Talvik, but I understood why vuelans were willing to hand over their deen to a vuelo like Chelcht.

Talvik thought: This Chelcht vuelo, he is probably the third robber that escaped.

I answered truthfully, “yes. He was the third robber.”

Talvik thought to me: Are you wondering why I have met your wagon?

I did wonder for moment. Talvik’s thought came to me: A vuelo was found dead on the road to Geshlan this brightness. His name was identified as Kerg.

I stared at Talvik, waiting for more thought.

His thought asked: Are you sure that Kerg and the vuelo named Gerkert are the same vuelo?

I considered the possibilities of the name occurring to my consciousness being unrelated to the subject I was reading. “It is possible that Gerkert is not Kerg. Gerkert could be the Zigene contact in Lukatch.”

Talvik’s thought connected the names: If Gerkert is a different vuelan, then he is probably who killed Kerg.

I asked him, “who would gain from such activity? Why would the Zigene vuelans risk their lives to rob and then split the deen they rob from the Lukatsic vuelans? Why would anyone in Lukatch take such a risk and be willing to murder an accomplice for what is probably a small share of the deen?”

While I asked these questions Talvik was thinking of the answer: Someone is profiting from the conflict between the Zigene and Lukatsic. The robberies are only part of the criminal activity.

I read that he was not sure that his theory made sense. I asked, “The conflict between the Lukatsic and the Zigene has been occurring for a long time. Has it changed in recent rotations?”

He thought: There were criminal gangs that roamed freely among the villages until recently. We were able capture most of the gang members and since then, the robberies in Lukatch increased significantly. The robbers come mostly from the Zigenes. That is different. I would not have connected the death of Kerg if not for your reading the connection.

Talvik’s thought was conclusive: There is no one else besides me that knows you are reading thoughts on this matter. He stopped our wagon and turned it around. We sped the other way toward the Mazo road village. Brudge, from his wagon, watched us go by and turned to stare at us, wondering why we were going the other way.

I concentrated. Talvik did not know who he could trust in Lukatch village. Names and incidents ran through his mind. I asked, “Where are we going?

He looked at me and said, “Mazo village.” He also thought: Maybe your friends remain there.

In the campgrounds at the Mazo road there were many more vuelans than it had appeared to me earlier. My reading of minds revealed several groups of vuelans gathered in the campsites nearby. Sola was giving way to the dim as Talvik found a campsite for us and tied his zebry to some trees. He carried grains for the zebry to eat, along with a water bucket. I learned that there was a spring here, which is why the Mazo road comes to this place. There were only two structures here. Logs leaned up around a large tree made up the only shelter here. There was a fence built around the spring. This was probably to prevent animals from competing with the vuelans for the fresh water. A common fire pit was near the spring and served as the main cooking area for the campsites.

While Talvik was caring for the zebry his thought asked me to locate Hethio and Chelcht. I had already been able to tell him that they were in the Mazo campsites somewhere. I walked toward the fire pit and read another thought from Hethio that allowed me to narrow her location. I stopped at the fire pit and turned away. I walked in the direction of Hethio’s thought that took me toward the edge of the campgrounds. I was sure of the direction now and returned to Talvik. On my way a young vuelo who I am sure was following me to this area stopped in my path, staring at me. It was now early dim but there was enough light left to see that he was thoroughly excited by my appearance. I knelt in front of him but did not want to drop my ves. I was sure the young vuelo would be unable to restrain himself. I lowered my head, then looked up at him and asked, “lo vuelo, I will serve you.” He did not say anything as I stood up. I smiled, stepped toward him, asking, “what is your name, young vuelo?”

He was finally able to say, “Koltodon.” I held my palms out and reached toward him. He put his palms on mine. I waited.

He took a moment and I read that he wanted to ask me if I was a vuelessa. “Are you a.” He stopped, unable to finish the question.

I assisted his curiosity, telling him, “yes, Koltodon, I am a vuelessa. My name is Loee.” I waited a moment. He was mesmerized by my appearance. I helped again, “you are here with your family?” I was reading this from him. “You are from beyond Aleesh?”

He found his voice, “yes.”

I put my hand on my heart and said, “Loee.” This reminded him.

He said, “we are traveling to Refurio.” He assessed me. It was obvious that he was pleased.

I read distress within his mind for his family. He and his family were fleeing something.

“Koltodon, which way is your campsite?” He pointed. I said, “mine is that way also, may I walk with you?” I didn’t want to linger in this area. I took his hand and he turned and looked at me. I gestured to him that he lead on.

Koltodon lead the way now. His self confidence was multiplied by leading me through the campsites. When we came to his family’s camp, I leaned close to him and whispered, “introduce me to your mother and family.”

He announced to the vuelasel and two young vuelitas that were his sisters, “this is Loee. She is a vuelessa.”

I went to my knees in front of the vuelasel, then stood and said. “I will serve you. Your young vuelo has been kind to assist me in finding my way through the campground.”

The vuelo’s mother stared at me with wide eyes, as did his younger sisters. I read distress from them. Were they afraid to speak to me? I asked the vuelasel, “I understand that you have come from beyond Aleesh?”

The vuelasel relaxed and said, “you are kind to ask, vuelessa.” I leaned toward her, taking her hand while reading pervasive fear within her. She said, “I am Esala. My espo, Koltin, we left our lands with our family and what we could carry to escape El Fuego.”

The word fuego is the vuelan word for fire, but I did not read that there was an actual fire that drove them from their homelands. El Fuego was the name of something or someone. I put my arm around the vuelasel’s shoulder and hugged her, saying, “I regret that vuel has been unkind.”

Thoughts occur in an instant. Before our next breath I read the terror of her family’s experience. Her espo heard in the village that a criminal horde called El Fuego had attacked homesteads just one horizon away. Their lands were toward that horizon. He ran back to their home and sent the vuelo to watch from a lookout while the family gathered what they could carry and prepared to leave. The young vuelo, Koltodon, called from his lookout while they were gathering things. They filled the wagon and hitched the dogs and ran. Kolton lead two goats with them. The remainder of the livestock was abandoned. The family looked back from a rise across the valley to see the smoke from their fields that were set on fire. Burning crops was the trademark of the horde called El Fuego. Only the youngest vuela was put in the wagon at first. Then the older vuela. The vuelasel and her vuelito, Koltodon walked and pushed the wagon to help the dogs pull. Two brightnesses later they killed the goats and salted the meat to preserve it. When they reached Lukatch brightnesses later, they sold the wagon and the dogs so that they would have enough to live on and eat while they made their way toward Refurio.

I took the vuelasel in my arms and hugged her, whispering, “I will see that you return to your lands. The horde does not belong in vuel. The horde will be destroyed.” I was not sure why I said this. I did not know where the words came from. What was I supposed to do about a criminal horde?

A male voice called to the vuelasel I was with. Her espo was returning to the camp holding several things that looked like fruits and a small animal. The family would eat well this dim. I lowered my head in front of him and addressed him. “Lo Koltin, I will serve you.”

The vuelo assessed me and his eyes stopped on my crystal necklace. The vuelasel took the fruits and game from his hands to prepare them for the family comida. His attention returned to me as he said, “I have heard of vuelessas but have never seen one. What value can you possibly offer to us?”

He was correct. I had no obvious value here. I had no idea how to prepare the food he brought to his family. I read from him the name of his village, El Prado. I read another thought from this patriarch. Through his despair he wished that I could help. I was about to say something to him that I did not understand. “You are correct, lo vuelo. I bring no tactile value, but I know you must have your homelands returned to you. El Prado must be safe from hordes such as el fuego.”

The vuelo agreed with me and continued to listen. I began to read similar despair throughout the campgrounds. This vuelo was listening to me only because I correctly described his concerns. Again, I said something that I did not understand. “Be kind to tell the vuelans in this camp that are fleeing the el Fuego to meet at the fire before mid dim.”

On my way back to my camp where Talvik was waiting for me. I read his anxiety for my safety. The vuelo cared for me. Reading this thought from Talvik was so strange. There was another thought. This one was more lustful. I wondered if these thoughts were associated with love. Love is an emotion. I was unable to read emotions involving myself with accuracy.

His voice broke my concentration. “Are you watching where you are going?”

I looked up. I was heading for a tree. I said, “you are kind. I was deep in thought. I know you are anxious to find Hethio and Chelcht. I think we should invite them to eat with us.”

He relaxed and asked, “you found them? They are here?”

I nodded, then I asked, “Talvik, have there been families traveling through this region that have been driven from their homelands?”

He looked at me and thought: Yes. We have noticed some. Why?

I said to him, “I believe the change in the Zigenes behavior is related to the actions of a criminal horde that is growing in size in the lands beyond the villages.”

Talvik considered this for a moment. His thoughts began to connect occurrences that he had previously not associated with each other. He looked at me, not believing this could be happening.

I waited until his memories were complete and sorted into possibly connected events.

He now question in thought: Are you reading this possibility from those in this camp?

Now that I had Talvik’s memories connecting occurrences and I meshed these occurrences with those I was reading in the camp. I slowly nodded, yes.

We walked toward the campsite of Chelcht and Hethio. Talvik sent thought to me: Move slowly, They are watching and probably can see us.

“Yes,” I could read that we were being watched. I moved ahead until I read fear that we would continue. I called out, “Hethio. It is me, Loee. Lo Talvik is with me. We mean you no harm. We wish to speak to both of you.” There was silence. I read Chelcht telling her to tell me that I could come, alone. I quickly whispered to Talvik, “Send me your questions and I will ask them.”

Talvik nodded as I moved toward the campsite of Hethio and Chelcht. Talvik’s thoughts were coming to me: Who is the leader of the Zigene clan. Are there strangers that visit the leader. How much does he get to keep from a robbery? Half?

There was a small fire in their camp. This would help prevent Chelcht from seeing if Talvik was coming closer. I came upon Hethio and Chelcht. I read something unexpected from them, Hethio in particular. She was embrazda with their kid. My reading of her thought told me the word embrazda, which meant she was pregnant. I walked to her without hesitation and put one hand on her belly and the other on her shoulder. I looked at Chelcht and back to her, “Sola is kind to you both.”

Hethio understood that I knew her condition. She looked at Chelcht and said to him, “Loee is a vuelessa, she knows what is in your mind.”

Chelcht focused on me now. I read this large vuelo’s thoughts: He was concerned for his amora. She was not his espa and he wanted her to be his espa. He was unsure of where to take her. Take her? He knew they could not remain in this area. Why was that? The horde! He knew about El Fuego!

I turned to Chelcht and went to my knees and put my head to the ground. I unlatched my ves and rose to present myself to this large vuelo. I looked into his eyes, “I will serve you.”

I read trust in his thought, along with his appreciation of me. He wanted to trust me. He called to the darkness, “Talvik, I invite you to come to our fire.”

I held my stance, my arms lifted one quarter up, palms facing Chelcht while Talvik came into the light of the small campfire. He glanced at me and said to Chelcht, “you have found that the vuelessa is difficult to ignore.”

Chelcht was young, but had aged experience. He said to Talvik, “the vuelessa knows what is in both of our minds. She is calm and this tells me that I can believe what you say.”

Chelcht was thinking of many of his Zigene vuelen that had died recently. I picked up my ves, now that the two vuelos were talking.

Talvik said, “have you begun to question the success of raids on the Lukatsic because of the loss of a close vuelo?”

Chelcht answered, “there have been many losses. I have questioned the raids many times.”

These two vuelen were setting the parameters of their discussion. They would seek agreement. I wondered why.

Talvik asked a direct question, “many in this camp are fleeing a criminal horde. You know of this horde?”

Chelcht nodded. He knew of the horde and how it plans to move through the region. My mind sickened. The horde would kill or drive out the vuelans outside of the larger villages, thus starving the large village populations of food. The villages would be abandoned and the horde would overwhelm and attack the refugees as they left the villages.

Chelcht said, “El Fuego will kill or drive out all vuelans in this region. It is their plan to take control of everything between the Braza River and the Mar. Vuelans that remain will become chattel of El Fuego.

Talvik was suspicious, “why would you warn me of this?”

Chelcht was sullen, “the horde, El Fuego spares nothing. It will not stop with killing or driving out the Lukatsic but will also drive the Zigene from these regions.”

Talvik was appreciative to hear this, yet he wondered why Chelcht was willing to say these things. “You believe that the horde will drive out the Zigene? Are not the Zigene aiding the horde?”

Chelcht gestured to call Hethio to him. She scrambled to his side like a puppy and clung to his offered hand. He told Talvik, “there are chieftains that will be paid well to aid El Fuego. Once the lands are taken, I know that those chieftain will also become chattel to El Fuego.”

Talvik thought this made sense. He wondered why Chelcht was distrustful of his own chieftains. He challenged the validity of Chelcht’s opinion. Talvik said to him, “you are valuable to your chieftains. You could become one of them.”

Chelcht looked down at Hethio, then back up at Talvik. “The chieftains are wary of me. I have survived many raids that they did not think I should have survived. When our lands are overrun by El Fuego, I will be targeted.”

I read that Chelcht was not guessing about the El Fuego plan. He had been told of this by someone. Marntet! He had been told this by the Zigene leader Marntet. Marntet had sent Hethio away with me after we returned her brother’s body to her father for burial. Talvik and I had one signal between us that I now used. Looking at Talvik, I closed and opened my eyes. This assured him that Chelcht was being sincere. I also read from Talvik that he knew of the activities of the criminal hordes. He did not think that they were organized. The coordination that Chelcht was describing was new information.

Talvik said, “this path is not easy for you, but it is the only path that promises vuel to you and your,”

I interrupted, “soon to be espa and soon to be espa and kid.”

Hethio looked up at me now, surprised that I had said that. I read from her that she had not told Chelcht yet. Chelcht was not surprised, though, he pulled Hethio up and they held each other and whispered things. I read that they were anticipating a kid.

The moment they spent with each other allowed me to ask Talvik what else he knew about the El Fuego horde. His thought described them: The name El Fuego is used by many criminal gangs to terrorize vuelans in rural areas. We don’t know how many vuelen are in the hordes or how well coordinated they are. They are difficult to anticipate, to track or to capture.

I waited for Chelcht and Hethio to turn toward us and asked them, “will you share our comida with us?” They did not hesitate to accept. I could read their hunger and relief and joy when they accepted our invitation.

In the gathering around the Mazo fire I could count over thirty vuelen and sensed more vuelans in the darkness. I did not know there were this many families in the Mazo campgrounds. Some brought their espas and some brought their families. Families were there that did not have an adult vuelo. I had only told Kolton about this gathering. The word of mouth had been effective. The thoughts from the gathering were desperate. They had nowhere to go but knew they could not remain in this place. When Talvik realized how many had come he asked with thought: Are they here to see you or are they here to find out how you can help them?

I whispered to him, “both.” I was confident about what I was going to say. I had taken it from Talvik’s mind. I walked to the open area in front of the Mazo fire. This was the low side of the fire pit. Rocks ringed the pit and other rocks and benches had been set on the other side of the fire. I could see most of the vuelans gathered and they could see me. Govul added soft illumination between the trees around us. I thought: How strange my life has become. Why are these vuelans listening to me at all? I stepped to a clear spot in front of the fire, went to my knees and put my head to the ground. Holding myself this way for a moment, I read the reactions of the vuelans in the camp. Finding my shoulder catch, I released my ves. I rose slowly. The thoughts of the vuelans were of a new experience. Most of them had never encountered a vuelessa before. They had so many expectations that I was encouraged to try to satisfy them. At my full height I spread my arms with my palms facing them. Receiving their thoughts, I had their full attention and spoke up for all to hear, “I will serve you.”

The group of vuelans stared at me and said nothing. They were not sure what a vuelessa was supposed to do. They weren’t sure what a vuelessa was. I would have to impress them. I looked at a vuelo standing with his espa at the side of the fire. I read his name and his village. “Lo Tolgon, you fled Rasgla village.”

The vuelo Tolgon nodded to me. He wondered if a vuelo named Prunitil told me his name. I looked into the group. I called out, “lo Prunitil!”

A vuelo answered, “I am lo Prunitil.”

I asked him, “lo Purnitil, were you told by Tolgon that you should pack up your family and leave the Rasgla village area?”

Purnitil shook his head in wonder, “yes, vuelessa, he told me.” Purnitil called to Tolgon, “did you tell the vuelessa these things?”

Tolgon nodded no to Purnitil and said, “I have never talked to this vuelessa in my life.”

I was gaining validity and said, “Purnitil, you and Tolgon are the only two families from Rasgla. There are seven families from the El Prado beyond Aleesh.” I looked up to the group and called, “say AH if you came here from beyond Aleesh.”

The vuelans from beyond Aleesh called AH to me. Someone was here that was not impressed at all. In the middle of the crowd a vuelo stood with his arms crossed. He was suspicious. He sneered at me. I read his name but he expected me to somehow guess his name. I gestured with my palms toward him, “lo vuelo, you think I am using tricks to impress these vuelans?” This was his thought.

He said to me, but for all to hear, “you are clever, vuelessa. You are clever enough to trick the usual vuelan. Tricking them is all you are doing.”

I nodded slowly at this vuelo. He had good reason to be skeptical. The El Fuego horde had taken something from him that was irreplaceable. His pain was both personal and conceptual. I walked around the fire pit toward him. The vuelans in this camp were fleeing to the unknown. This vuelo was not like them. He had lost more than everything. He wanted revenge. His name was Djolang. There was an espa in his thought. There were also kids, three kids. He was not with them when the horde came. He was not there to tell them to run. He found his land overrun and they were gone.

I stopped in front of him and reached my hand out toward him, saying, “your espa, Owaea.” I paused and closed my eyes to concentrate. I could read Owaea’s thought from somewhere far off. Her thought was only of this vuelo, her espo. I opened my eyes to his. His eyes were wide now but still suspicious. I told him, “She is thinking only of you, Djolang. She grasps to the hope that you are alive.” There was more to his pain. I said, “you have developed a seed that grows a giant grain. This grain grows to be the size of a vuelo’s thumb. The grain stalk is the size of a small tree. You were selling this to vuelans around the region when the horde came through and burned the fields. The horde took more than your family, El Fuego has taken your dream.”

Djolang’s head turned to the side and up. He bared his teeth. His pain was raw. I put my hands on his chest and held his eyes in mine. My touch calmed him so that I could read through his anger. He wondered if I might be able to help. His wonder became resolve as he said, “tell me what I can do.”

The meeting at the Mazo fire had broken up and the different families dispersed when Chelcht and Hethio came up to Talvik and me. Hethio’s thought was clear on this subject. I expected her voice when I heard her say, “Loee, we want to help.”

I turned to her. Chelcht was holding her. I read his resolve in this matter. He wanted a different future, or, perhaps he wanted any future.

Talvik came back to say to Chelcht, “Do you know the vuelo named Kerg or one named Gerkert?”

Talvik wanted to see if he could trust Chelcht. Chelcht answered, “I know only one vuelo named Kerg, and he also calls himself Gerkert.”

Talvik said, “so the two names are used by the same vuelo?”

Chelcht answered, “yes.”

That wasn’t all of the answer. I looked into Chelcht’s eyes. He continued, “I also know another vuelo that calls himself Gerkert.”

Talvik was familiar with this concept and asked, “The name Gerkert is used by someone for a certain function or duty?”

Chelcht nodded, “yes. Gerkert is an assassin. Kerg was killed probably because he lost the trust of the leaders. He was probably sent to kill me and Chikek and Hethio after we completed our raid. Another Gerkert was sent to kill him. The secrecy of the overall plan must be protected.”

I read from Talvik’s mind that a Zigene had been found dead in Lukatch before and he now understood why. He asked me in thought: Is Chelcht telling us the truth?

I looked at Talvik and blinked slowly to let him know that Chelcht was being honest. There was more that I read from Chelcht. I asked him, “are other Zigene in danger from this conspiracy?”

Chelcht considered this in his mind. He had not thought this through before. He was connecting the possibilities now. I read those possibilities with him as he realized them and discarded them. Chelcht did not want to allow the bad scenarios into his mind, but the bad scenarios were real and making more and more sense to him. I read a kind of conclusion that he was trying to dismiss from his mind and asked him, “Chelcht, there is a cadre of Zigene leaders that are going to assassinate the other leaders in order to bring about the subjugation of the Zigene. Is that correct?”

Talvik asked in thought: Is that what he knows and is not saying?

Chelcht developed a pained expression. “That does not make sense. The few leaders I am thinking of would have to kill most of the other leaders.”

I remembered Earth history. The small cadre of Zigene would not have to kill all of the other leaders. Using human nature, they would only have to kill some other leaders until the remainder joined their side.

I waited for Chelcht’s mind to be receptive, then said, “The cadre of leaders will only have to kill a few of your leaders and that will be enough to corrupt the rest of them. Their plan will almost certainly succeed. This has happened many times in the past, in the history of vuelen.”

Chelcht said to me, “you are with the Lukatsic. Why do you tell me of these things?”

Chelcht was of the Zigene but he no longer trusted them. He did not trust the Lukatsic either. My answer was, “I am not of the Lukatsic. I am vuel in totality and I am vuel, solely. I am a vuelessa.”

Chelcht believed me. His thoughts told me this.

Hethio and Chelcht turned to go to their camp. At this moment I read thought from Talvik: I desire you, vuelessa. I desire you in totality and I desire you solely. His desire filled my senses. I felt myself moisten, remembering, I am vuel. I put my hand on the shoulder catch of my ves. Talvik knew what to do next.

The following brightness, Talvik returned to Lukatch to gather a hunting expedition to bring back a Chevalse buck from the coastal mountains. This is a large antlered animal that thrives in the cool rains that those mountains receive. This ruse would be adequate to get the vuelen out of Lukatch. He had no intention of going to the coastal mountains with the hunting party.

Talvik’s plan was to draw El Fuego into an area where they could be attacked successfully. It would have to be an area that offered wealth that the horde could not pass up. There was such a region located toward the mountains of the mar that was fertile and received regular rainfall due to the geography. The storms from the mar would build over the mountain range and sprinkle the rolling hills with rain during most late brightnesses. The region was known for it’s many expansive haciendas. One hacienda in particular, the Ortegan, was large enough to be it’s own village. This hacienda included several large casas for the supervisors of the hacienda’s operations and thirty or more smaller casas that housed the laborers and herders working for the hacienda. There were shops and a bakery and a cafe. The vuelans that operated the shops lived on the hacienda lands also. The family Ortega lived in the main hacienda along with two or three branches of the family. The elderly and fragile vuelasel of the family, Orosalia, continued to survey the lands every six.

The herding season ended in the rolling hills over the last couple of sixes with most of the herds being driven to Geshlan. The herding vuelos had left the haciendas for the villages to spend their deen and travel to their homes. The number of vuelen remaining in the regions haciendas were small in number. Talvik was counting on this information being known by the leaders of the horde. The rolling hills was an area that would be attacked by the horde sooner or later. Talvik would use the horde’s greed to attract them into this area.

Many vuelen from the Mazo road camp wanted to help with our plan. They were the vuelen with everything to gain and not much more to lose. I stayed in the campgrounds with our volunteers while Talvik organized a hunting expedition with his friends in Lukatch. He was sure this ploy would hide the true purpose of inviting his vuelen friends that had weapons to leave Lukatch village.

I accompanied the vuelen from the Mazo camp who went to the Geshlan valley to warn the farmers and herders and help them repulse the horde. I was not there to help repulse the horde. A vuelessa does not have the strength to fight vuelen or to use the kuchir. The kuchir is a multipurpose tool that, I am told, is an excellent weapon. There are probably vuelas that can wield one. I am not one of those vuelas. My main purpose was to lend credibility to the warning given to the vuelans of the Geshlan valley.

My other purpose was to attempt to read thought from the horde themselves to learn if the leader of the horde was named El Fuego and if not, who is the horde’s leader. I would also try to learn how many total vuelen were in the horde.

The attack came only four brightnesses after we arrived to give warning. The horde infiltrated the Geshlan valley, having avoided Aleesh village. This was their usual strategy, as Chelcht confirmed for us.

Djolang acted as the leader of the Mazo group for the purpose of warning the valley herders and farmers since he had previously traveled to this region and was familiar with some of the farmers.

The herders on the far side of the valley removed their herds to the river pastures. Armed vuelen pretended to be laborers in two of the far homesteads and waited for the horde to attack. The defense plan involved a retreat so that a gathered force would be engaged.

The farmers and herders created a thorough plan. It almost worked as they planned. I watched the expanse of the prairie beyond the valley. I read danger from afar during the previous brightness and was able to tell the vuelen that an attack was imminent. During the early brightness my readings of danger increased so that I stood up on a livestock platform and pretended to be sweeping. The vuelen with me in this forward position had a fire that would produce a smoke signal ready to ignite.

The horde began their plunder at the height of Sola. What I could read of the danger told me they were anxious to overrun the homesteads and had to be held back by their commanders. I called to the vuelen in the field. “Lo vuelos! The horde readies for attack!”

Draden, armed with a long bow, waited in the shed and had been waiting for two days now. He leaned out from the shed wall. He called to me, “vuela! I see nothing. There is no horde out there.”

Draden was a herder that was the most experienced hunter in the Geshlan valley. He volunteered to be in the forward area to call the retreat. Three other vuelos were on our flanks to watch for the coming of the horde. Draden looked to each side to the vuelen there and saw nothing.

I had not given any alarm up until now. He saw nothing, though, and dismissed my warning.

His brother, Garten was in the field a few lengths from me and noticed movement in the distance. He called to Draden, “Drade! The vuela may know of this!”

Draden now stepped out and looked to the horizon. I saw nothing at that distance, but these were experienced hunters. Draden and his brother looked for the smallest movement or series of movements in the grasses or bushes in the distance.

Garten called to his brother, “her sense is true. They are out there.”

Draden was staring intently now.

At the same moment a rush of agitation filled my mind. I yelled, “they are attacking!”

Draden had put an arrow into his bow and released it. I heard the swish and another swish sound from Garten. They were both loosing arrows at the visible line of thirty to fifty vuelen that ran toward us across the fields.

Draden called out, “they are wide! Call retreat!” He picked up a pile of dry leaves to put on the small fire that would make a plume of smoke.

The line of the horde stretched across the horizon. I began to run down the pressed grass road away from the homestead. The other vuelos heard our call and were running toward the opening in the woods that we all planned to run through. My senses were heightened as they had never been before. I ran with the vuelen toward the glade. Garten was behind us and catching up. I was out of breath, but adrenaline was supplying my energy.

Draden was looking to both sides behind us as he ran ahead of me. His thought told me that the horde was too close. He and the rest of us may not have time to warn the gathering of armed vuelos waiting beyond the woods.

We all entered the boo tree glade. These boo trees were on each side of a shallow stream that the dirt road crossed and then made a sharp turn. I slowed and looked back to the homestead where the fire had been set to give a signal in smoke. There was no smoke in the sky. A fresh breeze was blowing across the field, dispersing the smoke.

Draden called to me, “vuela, can you run with us?”

I read desperation from him and his vuelen. They saw the lack of smoke to signal the others that I saw. This plan was not working as it was supposed to. We were entering a turn in the road through the glade. I realized that for this plan to have a chance of success, the horde would have to be held back somehow.

I called to him, “yes, lo vuelo, run faster!”

The vuelen increased their speed. That was what I thought. They were holding back for me. I sprinted a few steps and stopped to run back toward the approaching horde. I crossed the stream and waited. I wore a string ves for this purpose. I thought that a vuelessa in a pretty ves standing in a field would have been out of place. I loosened my strings and let the ves fall to my feet. I could hear the yelling of the horde approaching. They wanted plunder and I was going to give it to them. This would give the vuelen enough time to mobilize the defenses. I set my feet at shoulder width and waited.

The crowd of the horde came into the glade and saw me. They did not think I was real at first. I lifted my arms out, palms facing them. Their thoughts were of unbelievable fortune. Some of them ran toward me with abandon. So much abandon that two of them tripped and grabbed at the others making them all fall upon each other. I read that this sort of thing had happened before between these vuelen. One of them who held a kuchir plunged it into another. He had been tripped by that vuelo for the last time! The melee grew and two more of them were killed or at least severely injured. I wanted to run but held my stance.

I read a dominating presence approaching. There was a booming voice that called, “desistere.” I had not heard this word on Vul. I read it’s meaning: Stop what you are doing! The vuelo came into view. This was the leader of El Fuego. He assessed everything that met his eyes. He was affected by me and not surprised by the actions of his vuelen. How different Vul is. On Earth, I would have run away as fast as I could, whether I had a chance to escape or not. Here, I am a vuelessa and can read and understand everything these vuelos are thinking. There were three dead vuelos at my feet, yet I did not fear for my personal safety.

One of the vuelos that had contested me as bounty was still alive. I bent to touch him and lift his head into my arm. The wounded vuelo looked up at me as he lost consciousness.

The leader was now standing over me. I read his name now, Delfoag. He bent over and asked me, “who are you?”

I put the unconscious vuelo’s head down gently, and stood up. Delfoag assessed me thoroughly. He was calculating how much deen I could bring if used for highest profit. During this thought stream, he revealed that his treasury only held a few clear crystals. I lifted my eyes to his and said, “I am the vuelessa Loee.” I lowered my head and continued, “I will serve you.” Then I lifted my head and continued in a quiet tone, “I am worth twice what your treasury now holds.”

Delfoag’s mind revealed that he did not doubt that I was worth twice the amount of his treasury. He looked into the distance through the glade, considering his current circumstances. He was suspicious of what was happening. He was prone to suspicions. He considered me again. He asked me, “you are a vuelessa?”

I nodded.

He said to me more than asking, “you were with the lookouts. The vuelans of this valley knew we were coming. The far homesteads have been emptied. The others have been warned now. They are waiting for us.”

Delfoag had decided in this moment not to attack the valley. He knew what a vuelessa was and wondered if I had stopped so that I could warn him. This idea would be useful to me. He asked, “Why did you not continue to run away with them?”

I gave him my kindest expression and told him, “it was predicted that your horde would come this way. The retreat and trap was set. You are wise not to enter the valley any further.”

Delfoag was intently suspicions now. He spoke with the deepest of sarcasm, “why then, my gift of Sola, did you delay the El Fuego? Why not let us all be killed?”

This thought stream revealed more of Delfoag’s twisted insanity. He believed he would be killed in one of his attacks. I nodded to him and said, “yes. All of your vuelen and probably you, also, would have been killed. The herders and farmers would have also been decimated.” I looked to the back of his eyes and said, “the gods do not want this to happen.”

Delfoag respected the gods at some level, for some reason. He turned from me to take up the matter of the three dead vuelen. I read his anger. He was going to kill someone. I did not believe he wanted to kill me. He yelled, “who killed these vuelen?”

No one answered. Fear permeated all thought. I read from one of them that his brother was one of the dead vuelen.

Delfoag yelled at them using his full sarcasm, “are all of you telling me that this vuela killed them? She does not seem to have a weapon.”

One of the vuelen, Brunk, whose brother was killed, said, “it was the vuela, El Fuego! The vuela killed them! She is a sorceress!”

Delfoag looked back to me. His vuelen called him El Fuego. This confirmed that I was in the presence of the horde leader. An expression of rage came over him though his rage was not for me. I stood still, watching, as he unhooked the kuchir from his belt and swung toward me. I did not move.

Reading thought causes your mind to see what is happening in slow motion. Delfaog was stepping back with his left foot. The kuchir was held close to his body until he spun half way and then his arm extended to bring accelerated force to bear as he stepped toward the vuelo, Brunk, who was behind him.

Brunk’s surprise remained on his face as his head was almost severed from his body. His body fell forward, with his face looking up from the top of his back.

Delfoag called to his vuelen, “we advance to the dim horizon!”

He had called his horde to march into the dim horizon and was thinking of what to do with me. He called to his vuelo, Tunalt, “Tunalt, cord the vuela to the wagon.”

Aeia 1.4

Centium begins the transformation

This story is told by Aeia

I am only a vuelessa. I am not the head of the Centium trade council. I do not command the Tesars of Vul to defend the city. I do not call out the Centium guard forces in times of strife. I am known by all of the vuelans of Centium. They call me the vuelessa of Centium.

In the previous brightness I presided over a presentation of tiles to be placed in the plaza. I knew that this had something to do with me. Being polite, I did not ask for details.

Ralt, of the council of Commerce read a proclamation: “whereas, in the history of the village of Centium, the city of Centium was created by the vuelans that make their vuel here. Whereas, the city of Centium was threatened by an evil force from the sky.”

I began to read something strange. My thoughts were not clear. My telepathy was clouded. This was not what was supposed to be happening. There were other thoughts coming now. These vuelans were singing in their minds. I reached over to Murgad. He was with me. Everything was alright.

Ralt was reciting. Whereas, Whereas, Whereas. Then he mentioned Murgad. This was not at all what I had previously read and understood. I noticed Mald and Nargut and Tallan and then I saw E’ella. My mind asked: What was she doing here?

Ralt announced: “These tiles will proclaim the story of how vuel was saved on this Plaza ”.

I was thinking to myself: Do I also know this is going to happen, somehow?

Oseio’s consciousness came into my mind, telling me: I caused as much as I could to be withheld from you, Aeia. I wanted this to be a surprise. This presentation of these story tiles is more of a tribute to you and Murgad than it is to me.

Murgad shrugged his ignorance about the situation when I motioned my question to him. I sensed Gald and Dekt arriving and saw them beyond the crowd.

Ralt said to the gathered vuelans, “the Council of Commerce constitutes these story tiles to describe the acts of Murgad and vuelessa Aeia. The Council of Commerce also proclaims Aeia to be the Vuelessa of Centium!”

Everyone in the multitude of vuelans now began to chant out loud what they had been singing in their minds. I recognized the chant, now: “Aeia! Aeia! Aeia! Aeia!”

That pronouncement made my position official. I became the Vuelessa of Centium. I rule, over nothing, nothing whatsoever. I am responsible, for everything. The assembled vuelans chanted Aeia, Aeia, Aeia! The chant brought me back to my senses. I lifted my palms to them and lowered my head, waving it back and forth trying not to accept their lauding.

The vuelans called, “the vuelessa does not want to accept gratitude!” “She always gives all the acclaim to others!”

I found the vuelo that said the last phrase and said to him, “lo vuelo, I give the acclaim to others because they are the vuelans that deserve it!” I read the thoughts from the vuelans nearby. They felt joyous but guarded. They trusted me. They trusted that I was a guardian of vuel. Dekt and Gald made their way through the crowd. I called to them, “my Gald, Dekt, you did not tell me about this either!”

Gald hugged me, saying, “we were also deceived about this, and we were also given the wrong time of the brightness. We are fortunate to be here at all!”

Dekt agreed, “I was completely misled about this presentation. It is a kind tribute to Oseio. More importantly, it records the actions that you and Murgad took that brightness.” Dekt finished his thought as he looked directly at Murgad. He said to Murgad, “I am grateful to you, fighter.”

Murgad nodded his acceptance of Dekt’s gratitude.

Dekt had considered the spike that Murgad threw to kill the construction supervisor many times. He had become satisfied that he likely would have lost both of his sisters if Murgad had not killed the vuelo, though he was unaware of my existence at the time. He said to me, “Oseio probably wanted us to be here together this brightness to see this.”

Oseio’s consciousness answered in my mind: Yes, I did.

I read from Dekt that he was leaving Centium the following brightness. I implored of him, “I am reading that you have accepted assignment away from Centium. Come to Casa Lago this dim before you go.”

Gald echoed, “yes, Dekt, come to the hacienda this dim. Our conversations wane in Kregt’s absence.”

Dekt laughed, “Since my last visit, Brand explained to me what a bomb is and I am anxious to hear of more strange objects. I will accept your kind invitation.”

Several of the vuelans who attended the presentation waited patiently for me to disengage from Dekt and Ralt. A vuelo asked me, “vuelessa, is it true there is no more threat to vuel?”

I read his sincere concern and that this concern was held my many who were in the gathering. I also read that I was the reason the they came to this presentation this brightness. They came to ask me if they were safe again. I had already his name, but politely asked, “lo vuelo, what is your name?”

The vuelo thought I was kind to ask his name before speaking to him. He said, “I am Kwalgin, vuelessa.” He motioned to the vuelans behind him telling me, “these are my family and friends. We have come here from Yuko Puerto.”

I looked at all of them. They were anxious to hear me tell them everything was safe and serene. I lowered my head to the vuelo and told his villagers, “you are safe because of leaders such as Kwalgin. He can only lead vuelans that care about vuel.” They all nodded. I continued, “this is all I can tell you for now. The red gods have promised to guide us to defend ourselves. With the help of the gods we will soon be responsible for our own security.” I read from the vuelans that they thought this could be a good plan, though they did not understand how such a plan would be implemented.

Another vuelo spoke up, “vuelessa, will you be attending the Cart Races this six?”

“Lo vuelo, are the vuelas racing this third brightness?” This would be the next brightness.

He was glad that I knew of the brightnesses of the Cart Races. He said, “yes, vuelessa, next brightness!”

I read that he and many others in the gathering were interested in my answer. They wanted to see if I retained my interest in such things as the Cart Races. This was important to these vuelans. This would be something that would tell them that vuel was safe. My action was going to tell them whether vuel in Centium was good or not. This was something I did control. This was something a vuelessa does. This was the pursuit of happiness and it is part of vuel that I do control.

I smiled and called to them all, “I will be attending the Cart Races next brightness and I will cheer for every one of of the vuelas!”

V’aya came out to meet us when we drove up to Casa Lago. She was waving, and called to me, “I am preparing a comida for the Vuelessa of Centium!”

I called back to her, “you are kind to do so, and we must have extra for our favorite Tesar Ranger.” I referred to Dekt, who was sitting in the front of the wagon with Tuhukt. I wondered how V’aya knew what I did not know. I asked E’ella, “did you know what was happening and tell V’aya?”

E’ella’s face was a question. She said, “I did not know, my vuelessa.”

Laughter filled my mind now as I read Exerva releasing her thought stream to me: I have concentrated to withhold thought from you for two brightnesses in order to surprise you, Aeia.

I returned her thought, with caustic emphasis: You are so kind to do this for me. Be kind to remember that I will be returning this kindness to you when you least expect it.

Exerva returned my thought: Something is surely amiss. I am reading the word bitch within your thought stream. Her laughter continued in her thought.

My amora, your perception is accurate. You and your amoro are by the pool, aren’t you? I will meet you shortly.

Gald put his hand on my neck. He sensed that I was telepathic with someone. I told him, “Exthius and Exerva are by the pool, will you join them? I must go by the room to refresh.”

He smiled, “I could be refreshed, also.”

In our suite V’aya had supplied cool damp towels. V’aya is a treasure, I thought to myself. Gald and I cleansed ourselves of the dust from Centium’s lanes. He used the sand before I did and when I came out, I knew what refreshment he was anticipating.

Gald smiled and motioned to his erection, “allow us to serve the Vuelessa of Centium!”

I jumped into him, throwing my arms around his neck so he could carry me to the bed for amorig. We fell into the bed, I under him. Our mouths engaged to satisfy our lust momentarily. I reached for his firm penis to guide it into my eager vagina, reading his groan as I heard my own. My head pushed back into the bed as my back arched and I spread my legs further with deeper arousal. Are you reading this my Essence of Beauty that Enlivens? She did not answer, in respect to my privacy. I kept my next thought within my mind: If you knew how amazing this feels, my kind friend, you would be jealous.

We walked out to the pool to meet Exerva and Exthius. Sola was low in the sky, turning some of the clouds pink and maroon. Govul was rising from the early brightness horizon, filling the sky and reflecting Sola back to us. The air smelled of the perfumes of the grasses. I thought to myself: Vul can be so beautiful.

Exerva looked at the clouds I was referring to from her lounge. She then answered my thought: Vul is beautiful and you are pat of it’s beauty, my Aeia. Will you show kindness to a Pleasance classmate?

I was close enough to her now that I smiled at her and nodded. I sent my thought: My Exerva, you may play a thousand more tricks on me and we will not be even. I walked to her lounge and leaned down and bessed my friend.

During our bess, she reminded me: We were even the first day when you put your body between mine and the lash that I brought upon myself.

Nonsense! You had no idea what might happen. You were not supposed to have been brought here.

She sent the thought: I do belong here. You can read the joy in our shared consciousness.

I released my lips from hers. She and her amoro thought to me: You are kind.

You are both kind. Can you read my happiness for you both?

Exerva looked at me thoughtfully and stood up from her lounge. She walked a length away. I read what she was thinking and wanted to say no, but did not. My friend, Ua, now called Exerva, and known in thought as The Essence of Beauty that Enlivens, went to her knees on the grass. She had not brought her ves out to the pool. She lifted herself majestically. I thought to myself: What a beautiful vuelessa she has become.

Exerva looked at Exthius, Gald, the newly arrived Lia and Dekt. Then she looked only at me and said, “I, Ua Exerva, vuelessa of Vul, will serve you, Aeia, The Vuelessa of Centium.”

I stared at her. What did she mean by this?

The Essence of Beauty that Enlivens said nothing else, and sent this thought: Wait for it.

Momentarily, a thought came to my mind: I, Viya, vuelessa of Pleasance, will serve you, Aeia, The Vuelessa of Centium.

Then, another: I, Hoe, vuelessa of Vul, will serve you, Aeia, The Vuelessa of Centium.

Then another: I, Veha, vuelessa of Vul, will serve you, Aeia, The Vuelessa of Centium.

Then another: I, Hetha, vuelessa of the Great Bay, will serve you, Aeia, The Vuelessa of Centium.

Another came: I, Ooya, vuelessa of the Cadiz, will serve you, Aeia, The Vuelessa of Centium.

The service pledges continued: I, Yala, vuelessa of Vul, will serve you, Aeia, The Vuelessa of Centium. I, Eycia, vuelessa of Vul, will serve you, Aeia, The Vuelessa of Centium. I, Zia, vuelessa of the Akavan, will serve you, Aeia, The Vuelessa of Centium.

These thought messages created a scene in my mind of these vuelessas presenting themselves to me. Exerva was in the scene in the middle of the area. I looked to her for explanation and she nodded to me that this is real and commensurate with my position as vuelessa of Centium.

The messages continued: I, Halea, vuelessa of Vul, will serve you, Aeia, The Vuelessa of Centium. The vuela brought with Ua and I to Vul, Era, appeared in my mind and sent the thought: I, Era, vuelessa of Vul, will serve you, Aeia, The Vuelessa of Centium. I, Weya, vuelessa of Vul, will serve you, Aeia, The Vuelessa of Centium.

Names I had never heard of pledged service to me: I, Othaya, vuelessa of Vul, will serve you, Aeia, The Vuelessa of Centium. I, Yurava, vuelessa of Vul, will serve you, Aeia, The Vuelessa of Centium. The unfamiliar names became familiar instantly. Thoughts occur quickly and simultaneously. I was hearing the name of a vuelessa I had never met and concurrently becoming familiar with her.

The pledges ended with the vision in my mind of Exerva and Viya moving apart to allow another vuelessa to come forward. I recognized her when she stopped in front of the group and went to her knees. She presented herself to me, sending her thought to me: I, Wazja, vuelessa of Vul, instructor of vuelessas, will serve you, Aeia, The Vuelessa of Centium.

For a moment, I read desperate events. Menacing scourges had laid waste to entire villages. I already knew of the occurrences involving the vuelessa Era. I now connected it with other events that were sent to my mind. The destruction of entire villages beyond the Akavan appeared. The runaway scrape of villages from beyond Aleesh and the vuelans taking refuge in Aleesh. Gangs roamed through the Great Bay. Corsairs dominated the Mar. Vuel was threatened from within. The Resjed had suppressed the formation of armies on Vul and this was encouraging criminal gangs to operate as they wished.

The vuelessa Loee was conspicuously absent from this gathering. Where was her thought?

Wazja continued her thoughts for clarification: Your position as the Vuelessa of Centium provides vuel with intellectual harmony. Vuel has been without a vuelessa of Centium for tens of annaros. Aeia, your actions and counsel will be vital to the advancement of vuel.

I sent thought to Exerva: Can you confirm all that I am reading?

She returned my thought: I followed your experience. I have it all. I confirm all of the reading.

I brought the image of the vuelessas into my mind and acknowledged their pledges: I accept from each of you your pledge of service and I understand what I must do.

Exerva came to me. This entire thought stream involving all of the vuelessas had lasted only a moment. She put her forehead on mine. Together, we thought: This must be what we were trained for. We asked for details of the occurrences that were presented and the images flooded into the shared consciousness that Exerva and I had created.

I heard Dekt ask, “Exthius, are they creating a shared consciousness?”

Imagination used for creating joy answered, “yes. This has to do with Aeia being proclaimed The Vuelessa of Centium. There has not been a vuelessa of Centium for annaros. Do you remember the last one?”

Dekt answered, “I remember the last one. Yes, it has been many annaros. Her name was Elaya. I was one of many vuelen that joined the Tesars at her call.”

Their conversation opened more questions for me. I asked, “my Dekt, this vuelessa Elaya, how long had she been the Vuelessa of Centium when you joined the Tesar forces?”

He gave this some thought and answered, “I don’t remember. She may have been Vuelessa of Centium for many annaros.”

I didn’t care so much about how long she had been the Vuelessa of Centium. What I wanted to know was why she recruited vuelen into the Tesar force. I did not want to ask Dekt my question until I had asked about an unrelated matter. His answer told me that the situation that he was recruited for happened long ago. He would think that I was asking about his past. “What was it that caused you to heed the vuelessa’s call to action?”

Once again, Dekt considered my question for a moment. “There were criminal gangs that were based in other villages that were raiding the vuelans of Centium. Nothing was safe. Vuelans could not leave the village. Other villagers were afraid to come to Centium. The lawlessness became so prevalent that there were food shortages.”

The shared consciousness of The Essence of Beauty that Enlivens and Imagination used for creating joy asked in thought: We must inform you of a problem.

I opened my thought for them to tell me: You are trying not to disturb your brother and he is withholding history from you for the same reason, we ask your kindness for interrupting.

I searched Dekt’s memory. They were correct. The situation in Centium was much worse than Dekt was recalling for me. I stopped him, saying, “Dekt, that was a dire circumstance for Centium and for vuel. Currently, what are we facing?” I read the horrors as he released into his mind what he knew of the vast criminal gangs who are destroying entire villages.

Our eyes spoke to each other momentarily. He said to me, “yes, my vuelessa, it is worse now. That other reason that I have come here this dim. I must apprise you of the dangers that vuel faces.”

I read something else. I asked, “is that why you’ve asked Brand to join us?”

Dekt smiled, “I knew you wanted to see him and that he would want to see you. Brand will also be valuable to the conversation this dim.”

The next brightness came early for me. The discussions from the previous dim had been accompanied by the ample flow of vinho. I tried to remember: We had discussed traffic lights? The topics covered self defense and government. How did we get to traffic lights? We discussed weapons. Brand described his experiences with the concept of overwhelming force.

I awoke further and reached toward Gald. His erection was firm. He continued to sleep. I went to use the sand. While in the sand room I read Gald’s thoughts. He had arisen earlier to use the sand and come back to our bed. That is interesting. I think of my bed as ours, now. I left the sand room to find Gald waiting for me. I was picked up and hugged to him. We bessed as I wrapped my arms around his neck and my legs around his waist.

I whispered, “I am open for you.” I loosened my grip on his neck to lower myself for his penetration. Our moans blended in my mind as I grasped his penis inside me. This aroused him further. His hands were on my bottom and neck, pressing me to his chest. Our lips massaged against each other. My consciousness became his consciousness and this aroused me further. I was not aware that this level of arousal was attainable. My slightest move was amplified by his penis inside me. Our arousal gradually became orgasmic. Our lips remained in contact until we both sought oxygen for our exertion.

We joined desayun on the patio. Essence of Beauty that Enlivens and Imagination used for creating joy looked at us intently. I thought to them: The gods are envious of our passion.

They both nodded to me as their consciousness sent the thought: We are envious with them.

E’ella put some jav before Gald and I without saying anything. I wondered: Do we look post orgasmic? I read E’ella’s thought about us: You both are yet sharing your orgasm.

I drank my jav as fast as I could to allow my thoughts to focus.

The Essence of Beauty that Enlivens said to Dekt, “Commander Dekt, I have traded thought with Era. She is the vuelessa that used the new weapon developed by Pagalund against the raiding party from the Pua clan. She describes the weapon as having seven shots after a single wind. Then it can fire five more before it must be given a full rewind.”

Dekt asked, “how many of the seven shots are lethal, did she say?”

The Essence of Beauty that Enlivens wondered why he would ask this. She answered, “in her description, I understood that all seven shots were fatal.”

Dekt and Brand looked at each other. Brand said to him, “superior weaponry will give an equal force a tactical advantage.” Then, Brand saluted and said, “Commander.”

Dekt corrected the Essence of Beauty that Enlivens, “my vuelessa, I am only a Captain.”

The Essence of Beauty that Enlivens lowered her forehead to Dekt and told him a similar thing she had told me the previous brightness. She captured his eyes in hers for a moment. Her face lifted to his. She said, “for now.” She then went back to her desayun.

My brother glanced at me. I told him with my expression that he should take the advice.

My thought processes were returning. With them, the seriousness of the circumstances in vuel. I could read what Dekt and Brand were planning. I could read that they were unsure of how to proceed, though they intended to proceed in any event. I asked The Essence of Beauty that Enlivens, “where is Era?”

She answered, “she is rolling into the frontier beyond the Akavan. She and Rentz intend to kill any criminal gang that they encounter.”

Brand asked, “who is this vuelessa Era, and why does she have better weaponry than we do?”

I sent thought to the Essence of Beauty that Enlivens that she should tell Brand about Era and Renzt.

Ua Exerva told him, “Brand, you remember Renzt? He was here in the hacienda when you first arrived. He was called Renzot then. He now drives a wagon hauling goods for lo Fettik and lo Kregt. He also drives a wagon that carries weapons built by a talented weapons maker named Pagalund.”

While Essence of Beauty that Enlivens was describing all of this for Brand, I read that she had asked Kregt to come and give her a ride on the floating block to the Pua village. Doing this was something I had asked Kregt not to do. I sent my question in thought to her: My Essence of Beauty that Enlivens, did Kregt come to Centium in his floating block last six?

Essence of Beauty that Enlivens answered my thought: My Aeia, Kregt was given a new floating transport by the Resjed. It is invisible. Do not be concerned. He never appeared in Centium, nor did he appear with me in the Pua village.

I used voice for my next thought, “Exerva, do you know if Kregt is able to obtain the advanced weapons from Pagalund and deliver them?” Brand and Dekt were keenly interested in the answer to my question.

Essence of Beauty that Enlivens paused, “I have asked and Eloe will find out. She does not think that Kregt knows of the availability of the weapons.”

She paused again. “I asked Era about their situation. She says that they are carrying weapons that are advanced to the frontier beyond the Akavan. She says that the weapons are needed there.”

Dekt spoke up, “I know Pagalund. I was told that he has built a new shop to build his weapons. Does Kregt know where Pagalund is building his weapons?”

Essence of Beauty that Enlivens said, “no, he doesn’t know, but he will be able to find out if he needs to.” She smiled at Dekt, remembering the past relationship she had with Dekt. She said to him, “yes, my Exthius knows how fortunate he is, and I know how fortunate I was to have have known you at a time I needed good fortune.”

Exthius asked in thought: This is he who was the vuelo who infiltrated the criminal gang? He also said, “Dekt, you are a good vuelo to have around. Is there some way I may offer my assistance to your venture?”

Dekt and Brand became interested in Exthius. Brand quickly asked, “are you skilled with a weapon?”

Exthius said, “I am not. I can, however, demonstrate a technology that can cause a projectile to hit a target at great distance.”

Dekt asked, “do you have a Fafoaloan Sola weapon here on Vul?”

Exthius furrowed his brow, “no. That weapon would never be allowed to be brought to Vul.”

Dekt was puzzled at this.

Exthius continued, “my fellows from Fafoaloa have identified crystals here on Vul that could be used in a projectile that would work similarly to that weapon in the correct conditions.”

Brand asked, “you say, would. Are you saying that this is theoretical?”

Exthius momentarily appeared to be insulted, before he explained, “this is not a theory, though I understand why you are asking such a question.”

I read from the vuelen that they needed help and were unsure of where or how to find it. I was formulating a plan to recruit all the talent that would be necessary.

“Exerva and Exthius, I am going to the Cart Races this brightness. Gald will be kind enough to accompany me. Would you both be kind to come with us?”

I was not prepared for the crowds we encountered near the Cart Racing track. Tuhukt had to stop our wagon over one lane away from the track.

I began to hear form the vuelans in the lanes, “there she is!” “There is Aeia!” “The Vuelessa of Centium is going to the Cart Races!” “She announced the previous brightness that she would come and she is here!”

Kids were being held on vuelans shoulders. They waved at me. I stood up in the wagon to wave back. Gald and Murgad stood with me and watched the crowd as a precaution. Exthius and Exerva stayed in their seats and waved to the crowd. I wondered if anyone recognized Exerva as the vuelessa trophy from the previous six

The crowds called out, “the vuelessa of Centium attends the Cart Races!” “Aeia is going to the Cart Races! Vuel is safe and secure again!”

I smiled and waved. I had nothing to do with the safety of vuel. The vuelans of Centium were attributing everything about vuel to me. I was responsible for almost none of it. This brightness I had a mission. I called out, “All of you, the vuelans of Centium, you are the greatness of vuel!”

The vuelans of Centium continued to call out, “Aeia is the Vuelessa of Centium!” “She gives away the credit for all she does!” “Vuel is safe because of the vuelessa but she cheers us!”

Tuhukt was able to move the wagon slowly forward as the crowd parted for our dog team. We rolled toward the Cart Race track. The archway at the entrance to the estadia was topped with several banners of red, blue, white and striped yellow, and striped blue and white. These were the colors, I remembered, that the vuela’s carts carried in the races.

This estadia is much smaller than the River estadia where the gang fights are held. The terrain is similar and the grandstands follow a natural slope from the level of the lane in front of the archway gates. Beyond the gates a ramp leads to the concourse which was built with walls and a roof. Crystals changed hands here so there were many guards standing and watching. Some of these guards had spin weapons and some carried the kuchir. All of the guards had a sheath on their backs with a boo pole extending from it above their shoulder.

The crowd on the lane watched us enter the gate of the Cart Race estadia. The five of us walked up the ramp. At the top, before we went onto the concourse, Exerva sent thought to me: The vuelessa of Centium should turn and wave to her vuelans.

Yes, I am hearing them. They are all watching, aren’t they? I turned and waved. Ah’s went up from the lane. Many of the vuelans held their arms up as they called Ah. The kids on their parent’s shoulders held their arms up, imitating the gesture. I stepped forward and held my arms up for them. I held my arms up for a moment and then pointed at them. I pointed at all of them with both of my hands. The round of Ah’s increased. The vuelans on the concourse crowded up to the ramp from behind me to see what was occurring.

Calls were now heard on the concourse. “The vuelessa Aeia!” “ The Vuelessa of Centium is here for the races!”

Lo Nargot met us inside the concourse. He opened his palms to us, calling out, “the Cart Races have not been successful without you, vuelessa Aeia!” He looked at Exerva, and said to me, “Why do you allow another vuelessa near you that challenges your beauty?”

“Lo Nargot, be kind to meet Exerva and Exthius. They are essential to vuel.”

Nargot was in a hurry, I read from him that the first race was about to start. He called to us, “would all of you be kind to come with me? Enjoy mezzanine seating for this brightnesses races.” He motioned for us to follow him.

A ramp wound from behind the wagering tables in the back of the concourse and up to a deck above the main grandstands. Essence of Beauty that Enlivens asked me in thought: Am I reading that you made a tremendous impression on your last visit?

You may read that complete memory from me if you wish. I heard the call that the carts were coming to the line. This meant the first race would start shortly. I quickly said to Nargot, “lo Nargot, I must place wagers for the first race!”

He turned and called to the table vuela, “Epayla, be kind to assist vuelessa Aeia.”

Murgad and Gald came with me to the wagering table. Gald asked, “are we betting in the same strange fashion that we did on our last visit?”

Murgad answered for me, “I recall that I was a couple of blues ahead by following her wagers.”

I said, while looking at the squares on the tables to figure the odds for this race, “I do not pretend to impose my betting style on either of you!”

Gald said to Murgad, “that answer sounded like a yes.” He put his hand on my shoulder and whispered, “the blue cart has only one bet, but it is a pink. Someone does not want their crystal to be noticed. It is also the lowest odds on the table.”

I whispered back to him, “be kind to place two pinks on both of the low odds squares.” Gald did so. I noticed Murgad took two blues of his own and followed my wagers.

In the mezzanine deck, there were chairs and small tables that vuelans enjoyed vinho and salted breads. There were attendants there that would run a wager down to the tables. If you wanted to see the odds you had to go look for yourself. There was no electronic or manual scoreboard like those available at the horse and dog tracks on Earth. It made me wonder how this Cart Race track developed in vuel.

The vuelas trotted up to the starting line. The blue cart was on the outside. The white cart and the favored red cart were in the middle and the other underdog yellow cart was on the inside by the rail.

Exerva had now read the details of my memory of the Cart Race experience. She was about to make a comment when the vuelo announced to the vuelans in the grandstand, “bienva to the Cart Race estadia. This is the first race of the brightness! There will be four races this brightness! The winners race will be the Veulessa’s Purse Race! We have in the estadia this brightness, the Vuelessa of Centium, Aeia!

I read from the crowd that they were looking around the grandstand for me. The mezzanine deck that we were on had a low wall in front that, when sitting, vuelans on the deck were not able to be seen by those in the grandstand. The announcer was about to ask me to show myself. I stood and walked to the front of the deck. From here I could see about half of the grandstand.

The vuelans that saw me cheered, “AH.” I waved back to them, acknowledging their cheer.

The announcer now called out, “Aeia, the vuelessa of Centium, in the first race, has wagered on the blue cart and the yellow cart.”

The crowd cheered “AH” again. This time I read that some of them were ridiculing my wager and discussing why the vuelessa of Centium would bet on carts that had no chance of winning. Many others remembered that I bet on the low odds vuela carts on my last visit to these races.

Exerva changed her comment to a question and asked me, “why is this called cart racing when it is the vuela that is pulling the cart?” She also asked me in thought: And why are the vuelas naked in their harnesses?

I answered while I gestured to Gald, “I have asked that question and was assured that I had made a good point. Also, the vuelas harnessing that supports their breasts is important to the vuelen’s interest in the sport. It certainly draws more spectators than if the race was among dogs or zebry.”

Murgad was inquisitive, “my vuelessa, why would anyone want to see dogs race each other?”

“Such a thing does draw a crowd in the faraway lands.”

He and Gald shook their heads. They seriously doubted anyone would ever watch such a race, nor would anyone bet deen on racing dogs. Dogs on Vul are large and usually used as draft animals. My pet dog, Butch, a large bull terrier, is considered to be a small dog on Vul.

The starting bell rang and the favored red cart took the lead with the white cart close behind. Interestingly, the blue and the yellow carts were staying close to the leaders. This track is shorter than the usual race track on Earth. A vuela can pull a cart around it at full running speed. The two wheeled carts are light and the vuelen driving them are thin. The vuelen can tug on the reins of the vuela’s harnesses to tell the vuela to move to her rechan or venan. Most of the race can take place at the start. The track is too small to allow for many position changes.

On the back stretch, the white cart tried to pass the red cart and was almost successful. The blue cart vuela ran up to the back of the red cart to prevent the white cart from dropping back in line to go around the curve. The white cart tried mightily to stay even with the red around the curve. This was exciting to watch. Unnoticed, the yellow cart ran close behind the blue. When the four vuelas came into the finishing stretch the white vuela dropped off the pace. This allowed the blue vuela to squeeze between them and challenge the red.

The grandstands roared loudly to cheer on their favorites. The red cart was heavily bet on by a majority of the cheering crowd. The red cart vuela had run a strong race to hold off the challenge from the white vuela. She was now challenged by the blue vuela who had sprint energy left in her legs. The red vuela was feeling the driver’s long wit on her flanks. I read the recollection from Exerva of when the wit was used on her when she was pulling a cart in Pleasance. That seemed like so long ago. She now understood why the cart vuelas were naked. She thought the wit was cruel.

You are right, my Essence of Beauty that Enlivens. Using the wit in this manner is cruel.

The blue vuela, energized by catching up to the red vuela, surged ahead to win the race. The excitement of the finish took our attention away from the yellow vuela overtaking the white vuela for third place.

The vuelo driving the red cart was furious with the vuela for allowing herself to be passed. I knew what would happen now. The vuelo stepped out of his cart and grabbed the vuela’s harness, pulling her to the cart and turning her to make her bend over the front panel of the cart. For her part, the vuela did not protest this treatment, but reached back to allow the vuelo to grab her hands in his above her back. She pretended to struggle against his penetration but she was receptive and I read her joy that he was amoriging her. The crowd of bettors that had lost their wagers on the vuela cheered the vuelo on as he, too, appeared to enjoy himself. I read that this was part of the show that was presented here at the Cart Races.

Are you reading this as I am?

Her thought answered concurrently with my question: I am reading it exactly as you are! The vuela is thrilled! How often does this go on here?

I misunderstood this occurrence the last time I saw it.

She returned my thought: We are reading this correctly. Many things in vuel remain that we are not aware of and many other things that we probably do not understand.

The vuelans that paid the extra fee to sit on the mezzanine deck wanted to meet and say loa to all of us. I spoke to most of them and then told them that I wanted to be closer to the action and left to go to the main grandstand.

At the wagering tables, vuelans called to me, “you changed the race , vuelessa!” Another called, “the blue vuela had not ever come in higher than third. She ran faster because you bet on her.”

I found the vuelo in the group that said the vuela ran faster because of me. I read that he believed this. “Lo vuelo, do more vuelans think the same? That the vuela ran faster because I bet on her?”

Another vuelo answered for him, “vuelessa, if you bet on a vuela that was lame she would run faster!”

These vuelans were attributing power to me that I did not have. I read that this vuelo’s name was Kalsantin. I looked at him to tell him, “lo vuelo, I have no such ability.” I listened to the thoughts of the crowd. They knew me, or they knew of me. They seriously wondered if I could affect the outcome of a Cart Race. They were remembering the previous races that I attended and that an unknown vuela won the winners race that brightness. I went to my knees and put my head to the floor. They perceived more than I did. My ves dropped away as I stood, spread my palms to them. “I serve all of you.”

I heard the thoughts that were whispered. The vuelessa Aeia can summon the gods. She is now the Vuelessa of Centium, she must have great power. I heard the thoughts that were spoken, “Aeia changes the outcome by her will.” Another said, “She can change the outcome of vuel by her will.”

I raised my face and told them, “all of you are attributing great influence to me. I have no power of my own. My thoughts carry no force of any kind.” They were willing to believe me. I am a vuelessa standing before them, hiding nothing from them. I continued, “the force I have is not my own. The power that I give to you is power that you already have within.” I paused. They were willing to believe this. They perceived that I was telling the truth. I added, “I am only a vuelessa. The power I have is to summon the power of vuel, and vuel carries the power of Sola.”

A vuela called out, “you summoned the gods.” The vuela was certain of this.

I read her name, “Ravala, there were no gods involved that dim. Those were brave vuelans.”

Kalsantin challenged me, “did a vuelan fly the transport?”

I called him by name to answer his question, “lo Kalsantin, the transport was flown by a brave, and extremely lucky vuelo.” He, and the group laughed at this. “I have been told that transport is no longer in existence.”

Someone else called out, “the spectacle was not of the gods?”

This was a serious question, I read the vuelan’s name. Brintelen works with the constables. He holds them in high regard. I found him in the group and stepped toward him to say, “Lo Brintelen, the spectacle was aloud by the gods. More importantly, the Resjed gods conveyed to me their preference for what should be done with the traitorous families. It was my responsibility that the preference of the gods would prevail.”

Brintelen nodded to me, saying, “it is comforting to know that the Vuelessa of Centium communicates with the gods.”

There was so much to explain to the vuelans of Centium. I remembered that we were at the Cart Races and called out to the vuelans on the concourse, “the second race is about to start. We must place our bets on these talented Cart Vuelas!”

A vuelasel called to me, “may we know who the vuelessa of Centium will be betting on?”

I moved to the main grandstand for the remainder of the races. I read that the vuelans were more comfortable with me among them. I was more comfortable, too. I wanted them to see my bets and hear my reasoning. Most of the vuelans did not follow my bets on the low odds Cart Vuelas. The second, third, and fourth races saw the long shot Cart Vuelas make two second place finishes and one low odds Cart Vuela win the race she ran. A few vuelans did bet with me on the long shot vuelas and they were rewarded. My winnings had added up to more than a yellow bar crystal.

Nargot came to me before the winners race, “will the vuelessa of Centium ring the starting bell for this brightnesses winners race?”

I handed Nargot my yellow bar and told him, “add this to the purse for this brightnesses Vuelessa’s Purse Race.”

He bowed his head to me. “The vuelessa of Centium is generous! The Winners race will be the Vuelessa’s Purse!” He glanced at Gald and Murgad, “will you both escort the vuelessa to the starting bell?” he turned to go, then looked back, “after you have placed your bets!”

At the tables, the crowds were wagering on the four winning Cart Vuelas. Several of them called to each other, “watch to see who the vuelessa is betting on.”

I said to Gald, “place the same deen on all four.” I called to the vuelans at the tables, “I will place the same amount of deen on all four vuelas.”

I heard the vuelans say to each other, “the Vuelessa of Centium is not picking a favorite.” “The vuelessa Aeia plays fairly.”

Nargot stepped onto a riser behind the tables to announce to the crowd of bettors, “The vuelessa of Centium has donated a yellow bar to the purse of the Winner’s Race. This race will be called The Vuelessa’s Purse!”

The vuelans on the concourse cheered this and could be heard to say, “vuelessa Aeia always donates back her winnings!” “The vuelessa always wants us to win back our deen.”

Murgad said quietly to me, “you continue to like your underdogs.”

He understood why my equal bets were not equal. While my bets were the same, most of the deen would probably go to the two favorites, as in the previous races. If one of the low odds vuelas won, my payoff would be high.

Gald returned and we made our way to the front row where the starting bell was. Once again, I ran down the ramp to the track and trotted toward the vuelas lining up for the race. I read from them that they expected to see me do this, as I had done the previous champions race.

The track announcer called out to the grandstand, “This brightness, the vuelessa of Centium has added a yellow bar to the purse. This race will be the Vuelessa’s Purse!”

The Cart Vuelas listened closely. This meant that the winner would be paid a much higher purse for this race. They nodded to me for my kindness. I called to them, “vuelas! You are strong and talented! Show all of Centium how strong vuel can be!”

A thought stream came to my mind from one of the Cart Vuelas. The vuela on the inside, who’s upset win in the last race put her on the rail in this race, her thought came to me: My vuelessa, you have no fear. You are the only reason we are alive this brightness. As you did, my vuelessa, I will dismiss all of my fear!

I found her eyes. I couldn’t help myself. I pointed to her and nodded, yes!

The winner of the last race must draw for placement the same as the other winners. The inside position is not an advantage. That vuela can be crowded against the rail easily.

I ran to the ramp and up to the platform, grabbing the cord to ring the bell immediately. I did not look back as I walked up the ramp with Gald to our seats. I knew how the race was proceeding. The vuela with no fear would not be crowded. When we were at our seats, everyone was standing. The vuela I had pointed to had sprinted to a comfortable lead going around the first turn.

The vuelans in the grandstand were calling to each other, “she cannot hold that pace!” “She will tire!” “The race will be go to the others!”

Gald looked at me. He agreed with the opinions being called out. Murgad leaned close to me to say, “they are right, she cannot hold that pace.”

The vuela in the lead could not hear these opinions. The only thought in her mind was: sprint all the way! sprint all the way! sprint all the way!

In the far turn the three vuelas caught up to the leader. They held their positions going around the curve to save their energy for the home stretch.

The crowds yelled, “They have her now!” “She has tired!” “The race will be to the blue or the yellow!”

The leader, wearing white, came out of the turn. The three challengers formed a line behind her. The grandstand crowd cheers were deafening now. They sensed victory for their particular challenger. The white vuela held her pace. The deafening cheers continued until the vuela in white crossed the finish line in first place. Her sprint had never slowed.

The crowd in the grandstand was stunned. They turned to each other in disbelief. “The vuela never slowed down!” “How did she do that?” I heard them say.

I waited. Soon it would come. They were thinking it. Then a vuelan in the crowd called out, “The vuelessa pointed to her!” Another said, “The vuelessa made her stronger than the others!”

I was already moving down the ramp to the bell platform. I called out to all of them, “the white vuela was not afraid to win. That is why she won the race.”

A vuelo called to me, “you pointed at her, vuelessa!”

I pointed at the vuelo. I used his name, “Dragdand! I am pointing at YOU! You are greater than you think you are!”

I found another vuelo in the crowd and pointed at him, “Muntinon! You are greater than you think!” A thought came from this vuelo: I am great already.

I laughed, “I know you think you are great already. You can be greater!” His friends jostled him. They knew exactly what I was saying about their friend.

I had their attention and continued, “I did nothing for the white Cart Vuela. The desire to win came from within her! That desire is within all of you!”

A vuelasel called out to me, “you said on the concourse that no gods were involved on the Plaza of Centium to destroy the rails to the obelisk. Is that true?”

I assured her, “yes that is true. The Resjed gods were in the sky that brightness. They destroyed the weapons in the sky that were aimed at us, but we vuelans prevented the weapon on the plaza from killing hundreds, or thousands of vuelans before the Resjed were able to destroy those weapons in the sky.”

Brintelen was in the crowd. He was hesitant to ask his question. It was the most important question that anyone had. I found him and asked, “Brintelen, be kind to ask your question.”

He was reticent, but slowly asked, “vuelessa, you said that the gods allowed the spectacle on the plaza. You say that no gods were involved in the actions in the dim before the forty third. I do not understand. Are the gods helping us? Are the gods guiding us?”

Anyone that was here in the grandstands listening to me was interested in what I was saying, up to now. When Brintelen posed these queries, everyone gave me their full attention.

Essence of Beauty that Enlivens was monitoring my thought as well as all the thought in the estadia. She sent me her encouragement: Aeia, this is why we were trained as vuelessas. You are about to explain to the vuelans who the gods are and how the Resjed are part of vuel. This will begin the transformation of Centium. You have them. All of their attention is on you. They trust you. Tell them everything.

Era and Renzt .1

We learn about the Criminal Horde

This story is told by Era

The Akavan village is the center of industrial commerce on Vul. This simple fact was mentioned in our training in Pleasance. We had been given no further details. Pleasance classmate Ova and I were sent here on our way to the frontier. We were not aloud to see any of the Akavan on that trip. We had arrived just before the dim and we left as Sola appeared the following brightness. We were treated well, though the maiden did not let us out of her sight.

Ova and I had become friends at Pleasance and we grew closer to each other during the six of the trip to Akavan. We shared some jav and pastries that early brightness and said loa to each other. I was added to the cargo of a wagon going to the frontier. These memories came flooding back to me while Renzt and I were on the antrib river boat, the Brazasel.

The Brazasel is powered by a steam assisted motor. It is a simple thing. A fire heats water brought into a tank and the steam created spews into a rotating fan. This propulsion system is aided by a team of vuelos that turn a large crank. The crank is a large wheel that vuelos run up a ramp to grab onto and ride down. Their weight does the work. Some of the passengers also get into the fun by joining into the rotation of vuelos running up the ramp to catch the crank handles. The Brazasel is built of the boo plank and resin. This type of construction is common on Vul. It is light and said to have great strength.

Our wagon filled with weapons and ammunition was rolled onto the lower deck with the cargo. The fare to ship the wagon was expensive, but Renzt calculated it would save time and would probably be cost effective. Riding upriver on the Brazasel was certainly easier. The trip against the current made it appear that we were going much faster than we were. It also brought back all of the memories of Ova. She and I would stand together on the upper deck and watch the vuelan countryside go by. There were other small rivers joining the Braza. Thickets of boo grew out of control along the river. Fields and pastures appeared where cattle and goats and hogs were tended by the herders. We wondered what we would encounter. Now I stood on the upper deck with Renzt looking out across the countryside.

He sent the thought to me: This is beautiful. It is almost as beautiful as you are.

I caressed him. It is good to hear the thoughts of one’s amoro. I also began to wonder why I could not receive thought from Ova. Her ability may not have developed as mine had. She was not exposed to Aeia, or to Ua Exerva. There was nothing there when I tried to join her thought.

Renzt’s thought came to me: You seem to be way out there on that far horizon.

“There is an event that is about to occur. I am involved in that event, though I am here with you. This event is beginning soon.”

He took my arm and asked with thought: Is it a concern? Is there any danger?

I read the thought stream and told him, “no. It is about Aeia. She has been named the Vuelessa of Centium by the Vuelessa of Pleasance.” I patted his hand on my arm to let him know everything was alright and stepped away a length. I closed my eyes to enter the scene. Ua Exerva was with Aeia in Casa Lago. I was standing with her. We were all looking at Aeia. Aeia was asking Ua Exerva what was occurring. The clear, concise thought from Ua Exerva came into my mind: I, Ua Exerva, vuelessa of Vul, will serve you, Aeia, the Vuelessa of Centium.

I was in a group of vuelessas. Some of these I knew and some I did not. Thought came from one that was familiar to me: I, Viya, vuelessa of Pleasance, will serve you, Aeia, the Vuelessa of Centium. I realized that something extraordinary was occurring. More thoughts came, pledging loyalty to Aeia. I read: I, Ooya, vuelessa of the Cadiz, will serve you, Aeia, the Vuelessa of Centium, as my friend that stayed with the Cadizans pledged her loyalty. This was serious. I knew I was involved. My situation was part of the reason this action was being taken. Another pledged her loyalty. I read that it was my turn! I knelt and stood again to say in thought: I, Era, vuelessa of Vul, will serve you, Aeia, the Vuelessa of Centium. Aeia nodded her acceptance of my pledge.

There were more. The vision of Aeia seemed to have a shadow behind her. There was another vuelessa standing behind Aeia’s right shoulder. I didn’t recognize this vuelessa. She was similar to Aeia, as if they were sisters. I tried to read the thought of others who were seeing the vuelessa behind Aeia when everyone stood aside. I knew why. We all parted for Wazja. She glided to the front of the group. Then I read: I, Wazja, vuelessa of Vul, instructor of vuelessas, will serve you, Aeia, the Vuelessa of Centium.

That was impressive. I knew that Wazja was some kind of authority figure in vuel. Her identity was protected. We did not speak her name out loud and she pledged her service to Aeia!

I heard Renzt say, “are you receiving thought from Aeia?”

My attention came back to him. I wondered: Had I said her name? Did I speak my thoughts out loud? I asked him, “did I say Aeia’s name?

He said, “I thought I heard her name. Is everything alright?”

I shook my head as I looked toward the horizon. I spoke softly, “no. everything is not alright in vuel. The problem we are dealing with is only one of many like it in vuel.”

Renzt was more curious now. He asked, “what does this have to do with Aeia?”

I gathered my thoughts to tell him, “I have attended a meeting of vuelessas. Aeia has been named the Vuelessa of Centium. This is a title that carries responsibility for vuel everywhere on Vul. We have all pledged our service to Aeia. The instructor of vuelessas from the Domesticate pledged her service to Aeia.”

Renzt sent me the thought: I’ve heard Aeia and Ua discuss the Domesticate when I was at Casa Lago. I gathered that was where the vuelessas are trained. The instructor there must be important. This must be serious.

I nodded to him and re-read some of the thought stream that had been sent to me.

His thought stream continued: I have been aware of the criminal gangs since my arrival on Vul. I began my life here fighting them for my survival. The problem must be getting out of control.

I nodded again while reading more of what had been sent to me. The thought stream described a criminal horde called El Fuego and I wondered: Had I already encountered El Fuego? I tried to read for detail but there was no description for a vuelan named El Fuego.

A clear and disturbing thought stream came to me from a stranger that was near us: There they are. Stay here and watch. If they leave this deck come to the cargo deck and call out. Further reading told me this thought stream involved our wagon.

Without looking back, I put my arms around Renzt and began to bess him aggressively. He returned my passion with no hesitation. I whispered in his ear, “I am reading thought from thieves on this boat. They want to break into our wagon.” Renzt moved to break his hold on me. I whispered, “NO!” “they have sent a lookout to watch us.”

He sent his thought: When do they intend to do this?

I moved my face to the other side of his head to whisper in his other ear, “I believe they want to go there right now. Do not move yet.”

His thought became urgent: Do you have a plan, my vuelessa?

I whispered, “yes. Pick me up and carry me to the bench behind us. Begin to amorig with me.”

Renzt complied happily. I was put on my back and my ves was pushed up. He quickly loosened his pantos.

Then I implored him, loud enough to make myself heard by the lookout, who was watching us closely. “Not here amoro! Take me to the cabin.” I was picked up and held against him. I wrapped my legs around his waist and he carried me off to the ramp that led down one deck to our cabin.

Couples are seen amoriging in public in vuel. Seeing a couple amoriging is thought of, in vuel, the same way that Earth humans would think of seeing couples bessing passionately. For my purpose, we could not amorig there on the upper deck and still escape the thieve’s lookout.

Renzt carried me down the ramp, I read that the lookout believed what he saw and that we were on our way to our cabin. He was following us. “Put me down, we must go past the cabin before we go down to the cargo deck.”

Renzt asked with thought: The lookout is following us?

I said quietly, “yes. Hurry!” We moved quickly to the far end of the passageway and made the corner before the lookout could get into the passageway.

We hurried down the ramp to the cargo deck and stopped at a bulkhead. Renzt gave me the weapon he carried, and sent the thought: Use this. How many are there?

The noise of the engine moving the Braza’s paddle wheel covered most other noises on the cargo deck. I had to speak at almost normal volume, “there are two. One of them has a knife or spike ready in his belt. Beware.”

He questioned with thought: Can you tell where the lookout vuelo is?

“He is watching the passageway on the cabin deck.”

Renzt thought: I am going toward the wagon. When you hear me call out, be ready to trigger.

He crouched and disappeared into the darkness. The light from Govul was giving it’s usual red glow outside. Here in the cargo hold, darkness prevailed. Light could be seen in the direction of our wagon. The noise on this deck covered the activities of the thieves and by the kindness of Sola, the noise covered any noise Renzt was making. I moved into the darkness to allow my eyesight to adjust. My vision began to be supplemented by my mind’s eye. I was reading the thoughts of the thieves and seeing what they were seeing. I had not previously been aware of this ability. I thought: Stress. It must be the excitement. I also thought: Renzt has made a noise that was heard. The thief with the spike suspects an intruder. Renzt is in danger.

I raised up with the weapon, my trigger ready. The thief that was wary was watching for what he thought was someone trying to surprise him.

Renzt called out, “you there! Stand away from the wagon!”

The thief leaned back to launch a spike at the sound of the voice he heard. I could read from his mind that he was sure of his target.

The thief did not finish his throw. My aim was accurate. There was a scream of pain. The other thief tried to get away over the boxes and bundles that surrounded the wagon. In the faint light I saw Renzt jump toward the escaping thief, hitting him with a mallet. I wondered: Where did he get that mallet?

I scrambled over the cargo toward them, not knowing the condition of the thief I had wounded. The reading of his pain was unclear.

Renzt sent me his thought: I have knocked this one out. The other is on the floor, holding his chest. Are there others?

I read no one else. The lookout entered my mind. He continued to watch the passageway for us to come out of our cabin. I called to Renzt, “no.”

Reaching the place that the wounded thief lay, I read his pain mixed with panic. He was unable to breathe. The crystal dart had gone through his lung. I considered triggering my weapon again to end his misery when he lost consciousness.

Renzt was standing with me, looking down at the vuelo on the floor. A loud noise made us crouch again. Renzt looked around. I read that he did not see the thief he had hit with the mallet. There was light now from the back door of the cargo deck. We heard the sound of a splash. I grabbed Renzt’s arm, telling him, “do not bother, the other thief has jumped from the boat.”

The captain knew our names. This had to do with the expensive fare we paid. With our wagon, we were probably the highest paid fare on the Braza for this trip to Akavan. Renzt answered his questions and asked our questions. I read the answers to determine if we were being deceived. Our wagon was being robbed immediately after the voyage began. Ours was the only cargo targeted. Someone knew who to rob.

Captain Charpalat had few questions or answers. He asked Renzt, “you say that you saw him extending his arm to throw his spike at you? That’s when you triggered your weapon?”

Renzt answered, “that is exactly when the weapon was triggered.”

The Captain made the assumption that Renzt had triggered the weapon. He asked, “in such darkness, how were you able to see your target?”

I answered this, “he did not have to see the vuelo, I saw the vuelo’s silhouette holding the spike in the light the thieves were using and I am the one that triggered the weapon.”

Renzt sent thought to me: You have now altered Captain Charpalat’s vuel.

The Captain did not believe what I had said. “You triggered the weapon?”

I stepped away from Renzt and went to the floor. My ves fell away as I rose. My palms faced him as I said, “I am the vuelessa Era. I have pledged service to Aeia, the Vuelessa of Centium. I will also serve you, Captain Charpalat.”

The Captain had several memories collide in his mind. He believed me. He also remembered the previous Vuelessa of Centium.

The Captain took a deep breath. “Be kind to don your ves, vuelessa.” He put his hand to his chin. This gesture is common to Earth as well as in vuel. He was now seriously concerned about many things. He waited a moment until I had smoothed my ves down. He said to me, “vuelessa, if you would be kind to tell me. When was the Vuelessa of Centium designated?”

I read from the Captain that this was significant to him. “I was informed late this brightness, Captain.”

I read from him that there had not been a Vuelessa of Centium for many annaros. The position was only designated during times of danger in vuel. I read his next question and continued my explanation, “the criminal gangs are out of control in vuel. The threat from the gangs is great enough that action must be brought against the threat.”

Captain Charpalat said to Renzt, “I was going to ask you what you are carrying in your wagon. Now, I do not want you to say, though I am sure I know what you carry. Do you have any knowledge of who may know what your cargo was and would have arranged this attempt to rob you?”

Renzt glanced at me and told the Captain, “we both have been on the roads for too long to have any clues. We believe that the lookout for the thieves remains onboard. You may find him watching the passageway to our cabin.

Captain Charpalat took immediate action. “Tarpan, come in here.”

The door to the bridge room we were in opened quickly. The vuelo, Tarpan, saluted and was dispatched to gather the lookout.

The Captain addressed me, “vuelessa, we will find the vuelo and interrogate him. My first officer will also arrange further security for the remainder of your trip to Akavan. Be kind to assure me that you will join me for comida this dim.”

We left our meeting with the Captain and returned to the upper deck instead of going to our cabin. Tarpan was able to apprehend the lookout for the thievery ring.

Renzt sent the thought: You were reading that the vuelo continued to watch for us? It has been over a period now! He is either loyal or stupid.

“He is probably both loyal and stupid. Tarpan was able to grab him, as he had fallen to sleep while he was waiting.”

Renzt laughed at this. His only thought was: Incredible!

I told him, “you must see the Akavan narrows. I was able to see them when I came this way for my first assignment. We are about to go through them. The canyon views are stunning.”

We reached the upper deck as the canyon walls were coming into view. The walls are varying shades of pink crystal. The canyons can achieve the same color as the pink crystal deen, though I am told that this is not where the pink deen crystals are found. This early dim the glow from Govul was filling the sky and giving all the light a red hue.

A voice came from behind us, “lo Renzt and la Era?”

We turned to see a serving vuela with a tray of chalices. She said, “Captain Charpalat sent sent these chalices of vinho for you both.”

We took the chalices she offered and sniffed them. We thanked her and turned back to look at the canyons we were approaching. The dim was stunningly beautiful.

Renzt did not need to send me this thought: Do you read any bad intent involved with being served this vinho?

I leaned close to him, “this vin did not come from Captain Charpalat.”

He took my chalice and, with his, threw the vinho into the wind from the upper deck. He went over and set the chalices on a table, thinking: This means that whoever hired the thieves remains on this boat.

I took his arm, saying, “I’m working on that. I can tell you that there is no one trying to rob the wagon again. Come my Renzt, enjoy vuel with me.”

He looked up at Govul filling the sky, and said, “that is something I never get used to. It looks like a giant dome that covers Vul.” He put his hand in my hair by my ear. He stared at me and said, “the red glow turns your hair dark red, and your green eyes become shining crystals.”

I melted with his words. My only reply was, “I amor you, lo Renzt.”

Renzt sent his thought: You must already know that I have been in amor with you from that brightness that you looked up at me.

I did not know this. Did I not know this? I stared into his eyes. I had not read this from him. I slowly shook my head, no. I said, “you must say it for me to read a thought with such depth.” Would he say this to me? Would he make it real for me?

He held me in his vision. All of my attention was his as he said, “I amor you Era, vuelessa of Vul. My amor for you extends across Vul and throughout the universe.”

We looked up. The red glow of Govul filled the sky from canyon wall to canyon wall. The soft red light illuminated the crystal walls around us. The reflected light gave the appearance of late brightness. I thought: Vuel can be so beautiful that it is magical.

Renzt sent the thought to me: Vul can be so beautiful that it becomes magical.

I looked at him, “Vul can be so beautiful that it is magical? Or is it vuel?”

Renzt wondered why I asked that, saying, “you are vuel. You make vuel beautiful and magical. The planet Vul can be so beautiful that it is magical.”

I bessed him. He picked me up. I put my legs around him. I whispered, “weren’t we going to do this earlier? Don’t let go of me, the table is where it was before. It is waiting for us.”

The wagon rolled onto the wharf in Akavan. The stevedores in the port of Akavan take care of all cargo. Once on the wharf, we took over. I continued to read any thought I could that might reveal the identity of the vuelan, or vuelans, that had tried at least twice to rob us of our cargo. I read nothing. There had been no further attempt to rob us.

Renzt came back from the warehouse area with a team of zebry. He sent the thought: Have you read anything from the thieves?

I shook my head no and asked, “those look like strong zebry. Where they difficult to acquire?”

He laughed, “with the correct amount of deen they were easy to find.”

I did not get to see Akavan this brightness either. We stopped only long enough to purchase supplies for the trip and rolled out of the village. Renzt had asked about the road and was told that Mohob village was three horizons away. We drove out of Akavan as soon as we could. We were leaving Akavan as a precaution. The theft ring on the Braza riverboat would certainly be connected to other thieves here in Akavan. Leaving quickly would remove the opportunity to be robbed late this brightness or during the coming dim.

I read something from Renzt as we began to roll away from the provision store. I asked him, “you are going the wrong way on purpose?”

Renzt spoke, “Oh yes. I asked about a road that went this way, toward the late brightness. There is a road that connects up here and we will turn back to the road we need to take. There was a map on the wall at the wharf stables where I picked up the zebry team. I was able to see the route without asking questions.”

A vuelessa can read thoughts that are specific. Danger is specific. Bad intent is connected in context. These things are readable. Many other things are not discernible. Renzt, like many vuelos, is intuitive. I can not read intuitive concepts. I told him, “that was a good idea. I did not read another threat on the boat. I didn’t read any threat on the wharves. Do you suspect a problem?”

Renzt was sure of this, “sure as Sola, somebody on the boat knew we had something valuable and it wasn’t going to be long before every gang or thief in Akavan also knew. Look in the bed of the wagon for something so you can look back and see if someone is following us.”

I did so, wondering if I would see something on the road behind us. I saw no one behind us. I concentrated. I read nothing and no one watching for us. “I see nothing, my amoro.”

He smiled and said, “good. Let’s keep it that way.”

We turned onto a road leading out of Akavan. Sola was high. The sky was blue and the red shades of Govul filled the horizon. I took Renzt’s arm and leaned close to him. I said, loud enough for him to hear me clearly, “I continue to amor you.”

He leaned into me, saying, “that is good to know, amora. I am fairly certain I continue to amor you, also.”

I jostled him, “fairly certain?”

He gave me the truth from his mind: I will go with you to the end of the universe.

We continued through an area where the houses began to be further apart. There were patches of crops being tended in the fields. Other carts and wagons were on the road that lifted on the elevation of the plain. Over the horizon the terrain became rolling plain and there were no more wagons coming toward us. Fenced orchards appeared on each side of the road in this area. The lands gave way then to plains and only the occasional hacienda with vast fields of crops or pastures where cattle and goats grazed.

Sola was beautiful in the sky. The air was fresh and fragrant with the scent of crops in the fields. Renzt and I commented that the brightness was good for traveling. In the distant horizon we saw a gathering on the road ahead.

Renzt sent me his thought: This is some kind of checkpoint. The Boo thickets have only this opening for the road. Do you read danger from the vuelen? Can you read their purpose?

I was developing similar concerns as we drove closer. “Yes, it is some kind of official checkpoint and the vuelen are official guards from Akavan.”

Renzt questioned in thought: This an official checkpoint? Can you read their purpose?

I was now reading the questions that were coming from the vuelen in the checkpoint. “They want to know if we are carrying weapons or ammunition.”

Renzt laughed in his mind: Excellent! We are carrying both! I am sure it is alright if we are carrying both weapons and ammunition and not just one or the other!

We rolled closer. I began to read details of their purpose. While we were far enough away to not be heard, I said to Renzt, “the large vuelo second from our rechan is named Kavanak. He is the commander. He is of a prominent family in Akavan. The vuelo on the venan is Pelakan, it is his duty to shoot us if we make any move to protest. They are from the Akavan guard and are preventing weapons from being delivered to the frontier to prevent weapons from falling into the hands of the criminal hordes.”

The vuelen stood in the road. One of the vuelen in the middle held his hand up. Renzt pulled our wagon to a stop. The vuelo called to us, “we will know what you are hauling. We will know where and to who you are hauling your cargo.”

Renzt called to them, “we haul weapons and ammunition to Mohob village. The Council Captain there, Trupolion, has purchased this cargo.”

I read that this information satisfied the guard, however, the other guard, Kavanak called out, “There is no such vuelo as Trupolion in Mohob.”

I read his deception. Kavanak knew Trupolion in Mohob but he was was trying to create a reaction within Renzt and me. I looked at Pelakan and moved to step down from the wagon. As I did, I said to Renzt, “I will try to influence them.”

He sent his thought to me: Good luck!

I stepped down and walked toward Kavanak. I could read that he had childhood memories of a vuelessa and that he also thought that I was misplaced in this situation. I was going to have to demonstrate that I was not misplaced at all for this situation.

When I was a length away from him, I stopped and went to my knees, putting my face on the ground. I unlatched my ves and began to lift up. My foot was placed in front of me and I lifted while stroking my palms along my thighs, hips and to my breasts before lifting my head and spreading my arms with my palms facing him. My eyes found his assessing me, intently. When his eyes came to mine I said, “I am the vuelessa Era, I serve the Vuelessa of Centium and I will serve you, lo Kavanak.”

Kavanak was suspicious, “I have not been informed that a Vuelessa of Centium has been designated. Who is this vuelessa? Why has she been designated?”

Again, he was deceiving us. He had been informed of the appointment of a Vuelessa of Centium. I said, “the criminal gangs are out of control across Vul, this region is only one of those that is being overrun by the gangs.”

He was impressed, but said, “anyone in Akavan could have told you my name. I am well known. Your beauty is not getting you beyond this point if you have weapons or ammunition.”

This was not going well at all. Renzt sent me the thought: Do not force this. We can find a way around these guards.

Another thought stream came into my mind: I will help you, Era. My name is Oseio. I know Kavanak well. Do as I tell you. Now, look up at sola and raise your palms to sola.

I did not know who Oseio was, but I did not have any other plan in mind, so I did as the thought stream from Oseio suggested.

Oseio’s thought came into my mind clearly: You did that well, Era. He is paying close attention. Know this: When he was a young vuelo, I was sent to his family to help with the kids. He was the second oldest vuelito and he was completely infatuated with me. Now, look back to him and say, When the vuelessa came to help with your family, you were of nine annaros. You gathered the yellow flowers in the field and took them to that vuelessa.

I said to Kavanak, “lo Kavanak, when you were of nine annaros, a vuelessa came to live with your family. You thought this vuelessa was the most beautiful vuela in all vuel and you gathered the yellow flowers from the field to give to her.” I read a similar memory of this from Kavanak’s mind.

Oseio continued: The vuelessa’s younger brother came to visit. Her brother and Kavanak became close. They did everything together. When they were older, they joined the Tesar Rangers during the last time that a Vuelessa of Centium was designated.

Kavanak was now listening closely as I told him, “the vuelessa’s younger brother came to visit and the two of you became the best of friends. When you were older, you both joined the Tesar Rangers during the last time a Vuelessa of Centium was designated.”

Oseio instructed me to walk closer and say: You remember the vuelessa Oseio. You remember her brother, Dekt. It is Dekt’s younger sister who has been designated the Vuelessa of Centium.

I was an arm in front of him now. I said quietly, “you remember the vuelessa Oseio. You know her brother, Dekt. It is Dekt’s younger sister who is the Vuelessa of Centium. Her name is.”

Kavanak said it for me, “Aeia? The Aeia who summoned the gods to Centium on the forty third? That Aeia is the sister of Dekt?”

I nodded as I read this story from his mind.

Kavanak said, “vuel is safe.” I could read from him that this was not the end of his objections. He continued, motioning to Renzt, “that doesn’t mean I should allow you to go any further with only this vuelo to protect you.”

I smiled and said, “allow me to show you something.” I turned back to the wagon. Renzt was already sending me the thought: Your weapon is wound, demonstrate your skill for them.

Renzt showed his palms to the guards to show them he was not going to touch a weapon. I took my weapon from the wagon and said to them, “do you see that stand of Boo trees?”

They nodded.

I triggered the spin weapon and the first seven shots blasted into the stand of Boo. The guards impressions were that all of the first shots would have been fatal. Then I triggered the other five.

The guards were surprised. They did not know that a weapon with this capability existed. While they were realizing what they had seen, I wound the weapon and triggered seven more shots.

The guards called, “AH!” “AH!” “AH!” “AH!” “AH!” “AH, AH, AH, AH!” The guards, including Kavanak, raised their fists to me and to Renzt.

Now that I had their respect, I said, “A few sixes ago, I was in the village of Pital. A criminal horde came through and killed everyone and enslaved the rest of us.” I motioned to Renzt. “I was guided by vuel to this vuelo, lo Renzt. He is a teamster who specializes in transporting weapons.”

I made certain that Kavanak and all of his guards were looking at me, “I will find that criminal horde and I will kill them all.”

They stared at me in disbelief. I gestured to Renzt, saying, “lo Renzt will help me!”

Kavanak laughed at this, saying, “that is all I needed to hear! You will have help. The two of you will easily overwhelm nine or twelve attackers!” He was not in agreement with our plan at all.

Pelakan spoke up, “Captain.” He waited for Kavanak to recognize him and continued, “with these weapons, they could have killed us all before we could have triggered effectively in their direction. They are carrying a completely unbelievable advantage with them.”

Kavanak considered this. He was agreeing with Pelakan’s assessment.

Pelakan continued, “add to this the fact that, at a distance, these two appear to be frontier settlers, a criminal horde will believe them to be an easy target and will surely attack them. The criminals will find themselves ambushed.” He looked at me, and said, “it will be their last ambush.”

Kavanak asked Renzt, “how many weapons and how much ammunition are you carrying?”

Renzt said only, “enough.”

Kavanak looked at Renzt and back at me. He picked up my ves, handed it to me, and said, “vuel guides you, vuelessa.” He paused a moment. I read that he would ask more. He was well versed in the abilities of the vuelessa. He looked into the distance beyond my eyes and said, “I heard the report of what occurred on the plaza in Centium involving Aeia and Oseio. Be kind to express my amor to the consciousness of Oseio.”

We encountered no trouble between the outskirts of Akavan and Mohob village. From a distance it looked the same as it had many sixes ago when I first traveled this road. When we entered the village I could see the difference. The village was overrun with vuelans. They were mostly vuelas and their kids. I said to Renzt, “their thoughts are telling me that the vuelen have gone to the fields to plant and work the crops. The families have been brought here to Mohob for their safety.”

Renzt said, “it should not be difficult to find Trupolion. There is only one house here.”

There was only one house of diversion in Mohob village. We drove up to it and I waited with the wagon while Renzt went in to find our customer. I held the reins of the zebry to maintain control of the team. Riding in a wagon on Vul wears on you physically. The Vuelan countryside is beautiful, but riding through it in a wagon will wear anyone out. I thought of how different this planet is. Would I trade my vuel for my former life on Earth? Then I thought: What a ridiculous question.

I heard a young voice call to me, “vuelessa Era?”

The voice was not familiar. Turning to see who it was I read thought from a young vuelo who was from the village of Pital. His name was Gratoan. He did not expect me to know who he was. He could see that I held a weapon and he was interested in the weapon. I looked at him as if I was remembering him. I smiled and said, “you are Gratoan, is that correct?”

He brightened when I said his name. It is such a small gesture, to say someone’s name, yet it can be so meaningful to them. He answered, “yes, vuelessa.”

He did not know what else to say. He did not need to. I read his loss. He was in Pital when the criminal horde attacked. His parents told him to run. He wanted to stay with them to fight the attackers. They convinced him that they would be alright if he could bring help. He was barely able to run away from the horde. Later, he realized his parents told him to run away to give him a chance to survive.

I read his memory, now I searched his thought and found his desire: The vuelessa has a weapon. Does she know where I can get a weapon? If I could only get a weapon.

He was thin. He wasn’t eating regularly. He wore rags. His thought stream was certain: I want to kill those that killed my family.

His family? I read deeper: He had a brother and sisters that are all gone. Their bodies were never found. I realized that they were probably taken in the same group that Auvee and Ooya and I were taken in. They were probably sold along with many other kids in the slave market in Puerto Lavaka.

I did not think I could change this vuelo’s mind on this matter though I tried, saying to him, “you have all of vuel ahead of you. Go away from here, you deserve to pursue joy and amor.”

I may as well have tried to reverse the flow of the Yuko. The young vuelo’s face became serious and determined. His thought was clear, though he did not say it to me: I must do this, vuelessa. He turned, dejected, to walk away.

The young vuelo’s determination would not be denied. His determination, without weapons or training was going to get him killed. I called to him, “ Gratoan.”

He looked back, not expecting anything.

I motioned with my head to him and called, “come with me.”

The second brightness after we left most of the farmers and herders, we came upon the debris of Pital. It was quiet now. No one lived here. It was not considered safe to live in this area. Large groups of vuelans had come in the light of Sola to bury the dead and recover what they could. I had been told that nothing of value was left behind by the horde. Renzt, Gratoan and I were going to stay here during the dim.

We encountered no criminal horde members during the first brightnesses. Gratoan practiced his skills with the seven twelve spin weapon. He did not use real ammunition. The spin weapons will work with hard peas that are produced by the Tallow trees that grow wild in many areas of Vul.

Gratoan asked, “am I standing correctly?”

Renzt told him, “yes, you are. Remember that real crystal ammunition will give more recoil.”

I added, “that is why we’ve taught you to trigger from the ground. You will be much more accurate, and you will offer less of a target to an attacker.”

Renzt said to him, “and that is why we repeat this instruction and repeat it again. We want you to react and take the defensive position without thinking about what to do.”

We came upon the casino of Pital. The gathering place that served as a school during brightnesses and village meeting place in the dims. Celebrations of the forty third took place here. I had participated in two of the forty third celebrations along with my vuelessa friend, Ooya. I wondered if Ooya was following my thought stream. I knew that Aeia was following my thought. Oseio was Aeia’s older sister and when she died, her consciousness transferred into Aeia’s mind. This occurrence continued to amaze me.

The memories of the attack replayed in my mind. I saw the face of the monster that I had distracted from his killing spree. I remembered clenching onto his penis with such force that he feared I would sever it.

I felt Renzt’s arm surround me, pulling me away from this place physically while his thought implored me: The evil you experienced has made you stronger, maybe too strong.

I let him pull me away. I told him, “yes, and they will not escape the stasis of vuel.”

We rolled away from the village of Pital through the plains toward the village of Jwanden. I had never visited Jwanden, though vuelans that lived there visited the vuelans in Pital frequently. Most of these families were related to each other. I was not reading any thought of ill intent in the countryside that we traversed.

Renzt sent me thought that asked: I am not familiar with the stasis of vuel that you mentioned. What is the meaning of the stasis of vuel?

I was glad he asked me this. It was something I wanted to discuss with Gratoan. He was in the wagon, watching behind us. I asked him, “Gratoan, have you learned about the stasis of vuel?”

He answered, “yes, vuelessa.”

Telepathy was not necessary to read that Gratoan did not believe in the stasis of vuel. He was being polite by not telling me that he did not believe in it. I explained for him, as well as for Renzt, “the stasis of vuel causes events that are bad to be balanced by events that are good.”

Renzt asked with thought: Are you explaining this for Gratoan, also?

To disguise my answer, I said, “that is most of the explanation.”

Renzt assisted with his question, “does this principle always hold true in vuel?”

I took his open ended question and explained, “yes. The principle can take a brightness or an annaro, but bad will always be balanced by good. Have you experienced this principle where you came from in the faraway lands?”

Renzt paused, “yes, I have. Now that I consider the rule, I believe it happened many times.”

I read what Renzt was about to say and had to restrain myself from pulling him from the wagon immediately to amorig with him.

He said, “an example of that rule is that, a few rotations ago, I was taken from my home in the faraway lands and brought here. When that happened I believed that I had been cheated and would never find happiness in vuel. Vuel, however, brought you and I together. I now realize that Sola had been planning my future joy by bringing me here.”

It was difficult for me to read anything beyond my intense amor for Renzt. I could tell only that Gratoan was now considering the concept of an eventual balance of good over evil.

We were coming closer to Jwanden. I remembered that I was told that Jwanden was in a valley with a creek running through the valley. The terrain rose from our location on the road before it would give way to the view of the valley. I began to read warnings as we traveled down the road. I said to Renzt and Gratoan, “someone is in Jwanden. They are warning each other of our approach.”

We checked our weapons to assure ourselves that they were fully loaded and wound. We rolled over the rise and the view of the valley opened for us. The thought streams of ill intent began also. At first, I was unable to gather much detail. Then a plan became clear. I said, “there are fifteen to twenty vuelen ready to attack us.”

Renzt and Gratoan listened closely.

I read more and said, “they want to stop us at the fork up ahead. They will attack from the trees and bushes in that area.”

Renzt asked, “do they have weapons?”

I had listened for that and said, “they have a leader. He carries a weapon. The horde will surround us with spears and knives. They will tell us to get down from the wagon. That is when leader will emerge. They see you and I. They do not see Gratoan.”

Renzt called, “Gratoan, stay down.”

We rolled toward the fork in the road. The trees were effective cover for the criminals. Renzt continued our speed. His thought was: I am going to make them hurry.

His random intuition served us well. The gang members ran from the trees with no order. Many of them ran to different places. They were obviously disorganized. Renzt picked up his weapon while sending the plan to me: Jump into the wagon with Gratoan and open fire while most of them are behind us!

I did so. Gratoan stayed on his knees as he had been taught and fired with me. The horde members that were not hit with our first darts continued to run toward us. Gratoan and I triggered our other five darts. It was more than enough. I wheeled around to check Renzt’s progress in time to see him trigger twice into a horde member that was climbing into the wagon. I wound my weapon and jumped from the wagon to trigger on two of the horde vuelen that were trying to pull themselves away. They had been wounded badly, they would pull themselves no further.

I stopped and looked at a vuelo now coming out of the trees. He was in disbelief. His horde was decimated. He was desperate. He gambled, calling out, “put down your weapons or I will kill the vuela!”

At the distance he stood from me, the weapon he dropped would not have triggered a lethal round. I triggered three times into the horde leader. His dying thought was utter disbelief.

A thought of a knife, ready to be thrown came forward in my mind. I called out, “Renzt!

Renzt crouched, spinning to look for the danger. Throwing a knife is not like firing a weapon. Balance and timing are required. A knife flew up in the air and Renzt triggered twice into the wounded horde vuelo that launched the knife in desperation.

Gratoan was still on his knees in the wagon. He had killed at least three of the horde. He stared, wide eyed at the carnage. His thoughts were blank. He realized that he had killed some of the horde. He was proud and relieved. Gratoan was also unsure of why any of this had to happen. This attitude revealed to me that he was sane and mentally stable.

Renzt called to me, “over here. This one is alive.”

We had discussed what we would do if we were able to talk to an attacker. I called to Gratoan, “watch everything. If any of them moves, kill them.”

Gratoan nodded his understanding and stood to survey and watch the area.

Renzt was holding his weapon on the horde vuelo, saying to him, “you are alive because my aim is not as accurate as the vuela’s aim is. We are going to ask some questions. If she does not like your answers her weapon will not miss.”

I was standing over the vuelo now. I used the name I read, “Krupukt, what is the name of your gang?”

The vuelo was both afraid and defiant as he answered, “we are with El Fuego! El Fuego is nearby, he is going to slice you into a thousand pieces!”

The vuelo was lying. He did not know what El Fuego looked like. He did know that El Fuego was nowhere near this area. I aimed my weapon between his eyes and said, “you are lying.” I triggered the weapon. I asked Renzt, “are there others?”

He nodded over his shoulder sending me his thought: There is one that might tell us something.

Walking toward that vuelo, he looked much older to me. I read that he had been in many fights and was resigned to his fate. He was sure I was going to kill him when I walked up to him. I also read that his name was Perkufp and he recognized that I was a vuelessa. I paused before I spoke and I spoke softly to him, “Perkufp, will you tell me what this gang was called?”

His thought told me that I deserved this information. He said, “yes, vuelessa, we were only called the scourge. The horde leader, Dumpald, did not want his name used.”

There were more details that he was willing to tell me. “Would you be kind to tell me more?”

He appreciated that I asked instead of demanding his information and told me of the different hordes that he belonged to and that he would leave one after some plunders and join another. He described some of the villages he helped destroy. He did not give any reason or purpose to his actions. It was as if this was a profession that he belonged to.

I interrupted his descriptions by asking, “what was it that caused you join a horde and begin to destroy and plunder villages?”

A distant expression came over him. I read a broken memory and tragic loss. There was a family that was taken away. Perkufp himself welcomed the end of his life. He did not speak about the family he lost. That sadness was too great. Instead, he said to me, “you are looking for the El Fuego horde. They are going toward the Geshlan valley.”

I read that he was losing consciousness. I asked him, “are there other hordes in this area?”

Perkufp took a breath in pain and said, “we were scavenging for what El Fuego left behind. Most in the gang were called back to Puerto Lavaka.”

I read that there was something meaningful to this detail. Perkufp did not have much consciousness left. I scanned his memory to find a meaning. There was something important to the hordes that was in Puerto Lavaka. Perkufp’s consciousness was almost gone. I knew I was asking him my last question, “did El Fuego send them back to Puerto Lavaka?”

Perkufp looked at me and seemed tranquil. He was going to tell me something valuable, This would be the final act of his life. “Cabezan,” he breathed. He gathered all the strength he had left and said, “Cabezan gives all the orders.”

Kregt 1.4

The Great Bay

This story is told by Kregt

“The shark that you performed with has a name. “Did you know that?” She looked at me as she read my thoughts. “Tiburo. The shark is named Tiburo.”

Eloe had been given much knowledge of vuel that I did not have. She scowled, saying, “that is not the name of the fish, zebry tail. Tiburo is the vuelan word for shark.” She looked at the circular I held in my hand and asked, “is that an advertisement for the Tiburo show?”

The circular was in our rooms at the Bahia House. The Bahia House is one of several houses of diversion in the Great Bay. This area is called the Great Bay. There are several villages that are simply known as the Great Bay. This village is called Bahia. There is a rocky area above Bahia that was a good place to park the transport. Eloe and I were traveling light. We had one bag of clothing between us. Most of the clothing belonged to me. In vuel, vuelos have more articles of clothing than vuelas. Vuelas have only vesses and sandals. Wealthy vuelas have several vesses and two or three pairs of sandals. Eloe is wealthy because we are casado. She has had no opportunity to shop and owns only three vesses and two pairs of sandals and a couple stretchy garments that are what pass for bras in vuel. She has threatened to develop a lingerie manufacturing business and I agreed that would be a great idea.

Eloe stared out of the window of our suite. I did not need to read her thought to know that she was contemplating something. Without looking at me she said, “yes. I am struggling to understand all of this. This planet. This vuel and now, my place in vuel.” She turned now and, reading my mind, put her hand in the clasp at her shoulder and said, “it has been too long.” Her ves fell to the floor. I started to unbutton my shirt. She took over, “let me help with this.”

We bounced into the bed with each other. I touched her, slipping a finger within her vulva. She was wet already. I thought to her: Were you thinking of this too?

She breathed, “it’s the biophysical knowledge, everything I sense is amplified because I understand every response and I feel every response that occurs within me. I feel the onset of vasocongestion, my vaginal dilatation, the swelling of my inner labia.”

I wondered: Can she read how her description is arousing me? I licked her nipple to see her reaction. She moaned and threw her head back. I thought: You’re not exaggerating.

She grabbed my arms, “I amor you, Kregt!” She spread her legs wider.

She offered gentle, inviting pressure as I penetrated smoothly.

A long breathy groan came from her with the words, “when you slide against that wall by the urethra, “

She did not finish the sentence. She did try to tighten on my penis as I moved in her. Her vagina was so wet that she almost caused my orgasm. I pushed deep and held full penetration until I was able to continue without bringing on my climax. I held my full penetration and used small moves to bump her clitoris. Soon, her arms and legs encircled me. I continued my movements as rhythmically as I could until she shuddered around me. I tried to persevere. She did not shudder as much the second time. Her movements diminished and with relief, I climaxed in her.

We laid together, winding down from our common arousal. I thought to her: You must have been in another dimension.

Eloe did not answer for a moment.

I thought: You have not returned from that dimension, have you?

Her head rolled to my shoulder, whispering, “uh. No, I, I think I’m back.”

I waited.

She described what she could, “besides the vasocongestion and vaginal dilatation, the swelling in the tissues surrounding the urethra and clitoris and, the place called the G spot is along the vagina by the urethra, I feel your penis stroking right there. I get stimuli from the pudendal and the pelvic hypogastric and genitofemoral nerves. All those things at once are detailed in my mind.”

She laid there for a moment, and said, “I did not know how amazing sexual arousal was.”

I waited. She said no more. I sent a question in thought: Is this knowledge that the Resjed gave you? Is this part of the knowledge base you have now?

She stared up and said, “it must be. I was given knowledge of anatomy, organic processes, disease mutations, and apparently the ability to feel things within my own body that would help me understand those elements.”

I thought: I wonder if I could trade some of my knowledge of geology for some of that?

Eloe giggled, “you don’t have to, amoro, vuelos are able to develop this knowledge for themselves, over time. I read your thought, and I read your arousal now. Reading your arousal for me induces my arousal.” She paused, then continued, “we sense each other’s arousal and react to it. The reaction to arousal is a basic human trait.”

I thought of amoriging with Eloe again, to test her theory.

She laughed. “By the kindness of Sola, you deplete your ability to arouse after your climax.”

I moaned, thinking back to her: That is probably a good occurrence.

Eloe brushed her hand over my chest. She stroked my soft penis and said, “the oscillation of your arousal is a basic human trait that causes both of us to want to amorig again.” She paused and said, “right now you’re hungry, aren’t you?”

We were both hungry when we entered the dining area of the Bahia House. There is no such thing as fast food on Vul. There are no roadside cafes that you can land a floating transport in front of. Two serving vuelas wearing flowers showed us to a table and placed bottles of vinho in front of us.

They filled our chalices with the vinho. One of them said, “I am Eelah.”

The other said, “I am Ailah. We will make your dim at the Bahia House a wonderful memory.”

Eloe said to them, “you are both kind. I amor your flowers!”

I nodded my approval, also. The large petals of the flowers appeared to be the only clothing the vuelas wore. The flowers were similar to and larger than Hibiscus and Laceleaf from Earth. Ailah had placed a Laceleaf flower exactly where it would imitate a tiny penis. I thought to Eloe: Are you noticing Ailah’s special flower?

Eelah said to both of us, “we will bring you some fruits and nuts to nibble and you can decide between the spicy and the sweet fish.”

The serving vuelas left us. Eloe giggled, “that vuela is mischievous!”

I smiled and thought: When you are only wearing flowers, you cannot pretend to be serious.

Eloe looked straight at me and said, “someone knows who you are and is coming toward us.”

I picked up my chalice and held it toward her, “my amora.” Our chalices clinked and we sipped the vinho. It was excellent. I was impressed. This was not the usual vinho that would be served.

A friendly voice said, “you are kind to accept my vinho. You are lo Kregt. Is that so?”

I turned, following Eloe’s lead to see a well dressed vuelo walk up to out table. I put my chalice down and stood up to meet a vuelo that appeared to be of Earth Asian descent. “I am Kregt, of the Cadiz, lo,”

He smiled, saying, “I am Doang. Doang of Haikang. You are kind to be my guest!” He assessed Eloe for a moment, saying, “your kindness exceeds mine by bringing such beauty with you!” He then added, for her, “my serving vuelas wilt in your presence!”

Eloe certainly noticed that Doang had carefully assessed her breasts. She smiled when his eyes made their way to hers and said, “you are most kind, lo Doang.”

Doang’s attention returned to me. He knew of me and asked, “lo Kregt, yours is an opinion I value. Be kind to say if you both are finding our accommodations to your approval?”

I answered for both of us, “yes. You offer a room filled with comforts. I must ask your kindness, I do not believe that I know you as you know me.”

Doang smiled. He liked having an advantage and said, “I know the vuelessa Hetha, she is the vuelessa of the Great Bay. I cultivate her favor. It is valuable to hear what the vuelessas have to say to each other. I must ask, lo Kregt, do you have your floating block with you?”

Doang was far ahead of me. He knew things that I thought no one was supposed to know. I tried to look disappointed with my reply, “I’m afraid the floating block was confiscated by the Resjed.” This was the truth. I didn’t need to inform him of how we arrived here, or so I thought.”

Doang did not pry, but did say, “then I am pleased that you have acquired something better!”

I sent thought to Eloe: What does he actually know? I did not answer him since he did not ask. I did ask him, “lo Doang, I wish to discuss businesses with you but at present, you have a business to manage. Do you have some moments for such a discussion in a future brightness?”

Doang was intrigued. He said, “both of you, come sail with me on my tuyen, next brightness, when Sola is high. Ask for Eleeya at the desk.”

Doang left our table and I sent my question in thought to Eloe: What could you read? Does he know me? Do we have a mutual friend?

Eloe considered my queries. She sipped her vinho and said, “first, would you like to know what the tuyen is?

I smiled. That is the vuelan word for boat?

Eloe nodded, “yes, but Doang’s tuyen is large. It may be that huge boat we saw from the sky.”

I thought as I looked at her: That’s interesting. In your knowledge base, do you have the information on how the tides work on Vul? Wouldn’t the tidal action be severe on this planet?

Eloe thought for a moment. Our brains would bring up any knowledge we asked for, as long as such knowledge existed. She sipped some vinho and said, “this is complicated. You have knowledge of how Vul and Govul rotate around each other. The magnetic properties that repel the planets and hold them at at distance produce tides that are only a few lengths around the equator of Vul. These tides become more severe as you travel toward the poles. Govul does not rotate on it’s axis. Vul does rotate. Govul, while it is large, it is much less dense. Under the Govul crust there is a spongy material that makes up over nine tenths of the mass. Rather, it should be said that nine tenths of the material that comprises Govul prevents it from having much mass.”

While Eloe was telling me this information, I realized that I knew about elements available within Vul that would be useful in electronic circuits and magnetically elevated vehicles.

Eloe stopped her explanation and asked, “you’re thinking about something else, aren’t you?”

I shook my head, “oh, yes. I am able to think of amazing things.” I used thought to continue: Did you read what I was thinking of? I’m also thinking that tall buildings could be built with large boo poles that are infused with a simple resin. There is a similar resin that could form a cement under water. I shook my head at Eloe and thought: How are we going to put all of this into use?

She smiled and said to me, “they gave us the knowledge but it’s our problem to find a way to useit.”

Our food came. We had not yet eaten comida del mar on this planet. We had eaten fish from the lakes or the rivers. The dishes we were served were delicious. I said to Eloe, “This tastes wonderful. I think I am going to like living in the Great Bay.”

She asked me, “do you have any ideas where we can live here? Were you thinking of staying here in the Bahia House?”

I sent the thought to her that her idea of staying here was a good one while I answered, “yes, for the time being. You have complete knowledge of geography, do you have something in mind?”

She said, “I know how large the bay is. I know where the villages are. I do not know where nice villas or haciendas are located.”

Music began in the dining area. A vuela appeared with a stringed instrument that was similar to a lyre. She sang and strummed the instrument. The song was about the Mar and a lost love that a vuela was waiting for. The song was enjoyable though I thought that this cannot be all of the entertainment for the Bahia House. Eloe looked at me, having read my thought.

The wind began to blow. That was my impression of what was occurring. It was a strange noise that sounded like high winds. Given what had happened to me long ago on this planet, I readied my weapon. Eloe, reading my distress, looked around the dining area, also. A large vuelo that could be a pirate burst through the door by the performers. We relaxed. This was part of the show.

The vuelo searched for the vuela, not being able to find her. Then, from opposite sides of the dining area, she called his name. He called her name. They found each other and ran to each other’s arms.

I was wondering what was going to happen when Eloe read what they were going to do, and said in a low voice, “Oh! They are going to, in the full light of Sola.”

We were inside, so the saying, in the full light of Sola, meant that something that usually occurs in the dim was about to happen in front of us. She read this correctly. The vuelo of the Mar unhooked his belt as he ran to her. The vuela, having already put her stringed instrument down, pulled her ves away from between her breasts. The ves fell to the floor as she ran to him. When they met there was no clothing left in the way. The vuela leaped into his arms and they spun as he carried her up a ramp onto the performance platform to a setting that looked like a comfortable place for amor.

They continued to bess each other until the vuela could restrain herself no longer. The music volume increased as the vuelo laid back and she mounted herself upon his erection. The horns blared out while she writhed and waved her arms over her head. The musicians followed her rhythm. The vuelo held his hands up to catch the vuela as she writhed from side to side above him. This gave the impression that she was writhing uncontrollably upon him.

Eloe leaned toward me to ask, “are they only performing, or is this real?”

I asked her with thought: It looks real to me. Can you read anything from them?

Eloe closed her eyes for a moment. When she opened them again her eyes were wide. She smiled and nodded. Then her head moved slightly from side to side, in apparent amazement.

My attention returned to the performers. I watched the vuela closely. She was moving to the music. No, the musicians were playing to her rhythm. I noticed that the vuelo had to steady her when she leaned too far to one side or the other. The vuela may be able to play the lyre and sing, but this act is what the vuelans of the Great Bay pay to see.

I felt Eloe’s hand on mine and looked over at her. She was moved by the vuela’s passion. I thought to her: Yes, when we return to our rooms, we will see if I can make you move like that.

Sola came through our window to awaken us the next brightness. We had attempted more than once to recreate the scene from the previous dim’s show. We wondered if the vuela was mounted on the vuelo’s penis or if the show had been an excellent illusion. We were both familiar with talented illusionists on Earth. We decided that was probably what we witnessed.

Eloe put her hand on my shoulder from behind me, saying, “you were kind to try so hard to duplicate what we saw last dim.”

I said, instead of thinking, “I fully enjoyed it from my vantage point!”

She laughed, “yes, I remember that you laughed at me. I must have looked ridiculous.”

“You were amazing. I was laughing from my pleasure!”

Eloe had decided during the dim that the show was certainly an illusion. Now, she wasn’t so sure. “I know I decided it was an illusion, but I did read from both of them that they were in stages of climax.

I considered her conclusion, “I trust what you read from the two of them. They are probably more talented and far more athletic than you and I are.” I followed what I said with the thought: I was planning to buy one of those string instruments for you, but I think now that you would appreciate some jewelry instead.

She threw her leg over me in the bed and put her face in mine to say, “I am the instrument that you play, and you are the instrument that plays the music that I dance to.”

That is a fabulous description of us. Did you get that from the knowledge you were given?

There is a way that a vuelo knows when his balls are being reached for. I turned in the bed as Eloe reached for mine. No, my testicles have not fully reappeared, but they are available enough to protect. I controlled her hands before she could try to grab me. We wrestled with each other until we settled into amorig. No, we didn’t try anything complicated again. We amoriged the usual way we knew.

We were able to have desayun before going out to the piers. We also had time for Eloe to cross the lane to shop for a ves. I accompanied her, though the shop was close by. I carried a weapon. This area of the village appeared tranquil yet I was more comfortable keeping Eloe within reach. She looked different from other vuelas. Vuelans can usually tell if another vuelan is from the faraway lands. I did not want Eloe mistaken for a beautiful piece of property that could be stolen.

We returned to the Bahia House to meet Eleeya. She had been told enough about us that she recognized us from across the reception area of the Bahia House. She called to us, “lo Kregt, la Eloe, be kind to come with me to the piers. Lo Doang is already aboard the Vuelessa.”

Doang’s tuyen, the Vuelessa, dominated the piers. There were many tuyens tied up to the piers in this part of the bay. The Vuelessa was painted pink and yellow. Red banners flew from the mast and the thick line that ran from the top of the single mast to the bow. The vessel was wide and I realized it must have two hulls. I didn’t see another tuyen here that was the catamaran design.

We had not descended to the piers yet when Doang called to us, “Lo Kregt, hurry! We must catch the tide!”

I said to Eloe, “this must be how they launch.” We hurried down the ramp and ran to the pier. It seemed that the water level in the bay was dropping as we stepped onto the Vuelessa.

Doang yelled, “cast off!” Two vuelos on the pier released the cords they held. We felt the motion of the tuyen moving out of the slip. Doang jumped from the upper deck to say, “you are kind to join me aboard the Vuelessa.”

Eloe, having read his greeting before I heard it, answered for us, “you are kind to invite us. Your tuyen is beautiful!”

The tuyen was covered in decorative trim and images of vuelas. My attention could not remain in one place. I remarked, “Doang, this is fabulous. Did you direct the art and decor?”

Doang laughed, “I had much assistance, lo Kregt.”

A serving vuela appeared from nowhere. She offered drinks from a tray to us, “guavavae?”

I looked to Eloe: What is this?

She took one of the boo cups and said to me, “it is guav juice mixed with the spirit of the agave plant.” She put the cup to her lips and said in a low voice, “tequila.”

I took the drink into my mouth. It was tequila. This is tequila!

I turned to Doang, who had been pulling one of the Vuelessa’s lines. “The spirit in this drink, what do you call it?”

Doang took a boo cup from the serving vuela and held it up to us. “It is the spirit of the Gavae plant. Is the taste kind to you both?”

We nodded and I answered, “we amor this spirit. We have not experienced it before.”

Doang looked at both of us and said, “I believe that you have not tasted it for a long time.”

I sent the thought to Eloe: What does he mean? Can you read what he knows? Does he know we are from Earth? Is he from Earth also?

Eloe answered everything with her reply to Doang. She said, “you are correct, lo Doang, we have not sipped this spirit since we left the faraway lands. That is how you must have known about this spirit also. How did you find it here in the Great Bay? Is it created here?”

Doang took another drink from his cup and said, “that is a discussion that will take up the brightness. Be kind to sit on here on the port side while we hoist the mainsail.”

We went to the venan side of the tuyen. The venan side is called port, or, the vuelen word for port. The rechan side of a tuyen is called brightness. We sat on a cushioned lounge while Doang directed two of his marujos to pull on some lines to hoist the mainsail. He had a crew of three to sail the Vuelessa. The jib sail had already been raised and was turning us to sola in the light breeze. Govul was low in the sky, giving us a tidal flow away from the bay shore.

The mainsail climbed the mast and Eloe and I saw why the tuyen was called the Vuelessa. Her face appeared before the sail went halfway up the mast. When the sail was fully hoisted I said to Eloe, “I want your image on a sail.” The image of a vuelessa rising without her ves filled the sail.

Eloe could not help but read my thought and said to me, “yes, her breasts are beautifully illustrated.” Then she added, “this beautiful vuela is the vuelessa of the Great Bay.”

I saw her shake her head and smile. Was she reading thought from somewhere?

She said to me, “Hetha, the vuelessa of the Great Bay has sent her thought to us that we are kind to see her beauty.”

I believe I know how Doang has his information about us.

The wind filled the sail as we turned toward Sola. The Vuelessa accelerated and lifted our side of the tuyen giving us the feeling that we were flying above the water. I called to Doang, “this is wonderful!”

Doang and his crew tied the lines and the helm vuelo set our course. Doang came and joined us on the lounges. He waved to the image on the mainsail, “you like my vuelessa?”

Eloe, once again, read his question before he asked it. She considered both meanings as she answered, “we love your Vuelessa and the vuelessa on your sail is beautiful, too!”

I asked. “Does the image depict Hetha, the vuelessa of the Great Bay?”

Doang asked me, “do you know Hetha?”

’We do not know her. We only know the name.”

Doang smiled, “you are intriguing, lo Kregt. I was told by Hetha that you would probably come to the Bahia House to live until you could find a house of your own. She also told me that I would be wise to make you my friend. I am curious, Why are you and your amora looking for a place to live, in the Great Bay? I am told that you own a large hacienda outside of Centium.”

I looked at Eloe, thinking: Let’s find out what Doang knows and what his opinion is of us. I said to him, “lo Doang, I was asked by the vuelessa Aeia to leave Centium. That is why we are here.”

Doang nodded. “You are kind to tell me of that request by the vuelessa. That is what Hetha told me, also.” Doang paused, then added, “I am certain there is much more to the story. I will not ask further. On the vuelessa Hetha’s advice, I value the potential of our friendship.”

I raised my cup of Guavavae to his. We drank to friendship and I changed the subject. “Lo Doang, this drink you have served us is similar to one found in the faraway lands. I am interested to know if there is more of the spirit available, or is this your personal supply?”

Now Doang laughed heartily, spilling some of his Guavavae on the deck. He said, “Hetha told me this would be the first thing you asked me about!”

When he regained his composure, I told him, “Doang, we are from the faraway lands. This was our favorite spirit. We are grateful to Sola that we have found it here in vuel. Where does it come from?”

Doang said, “a vuelo called Doming grows the Gavae plant on the high bluff. He mashes the stalks there and boils the mixture somehow to create the Gavae spirit.”

I recognized the process Doang described as distillation. I wondered if he knew if Doming fermented the stalks. I asked him, “how much of this Gavae spirit does he produce? It must be only enough to supply the local thirst.”

Doang was thinking ahead of me, as I thought he might be. He asked me, “you want to know if you can sell Gavae spirit in Centium, don’t you?”

Doang was not thinking far enough ahead. I told him, “I want to sell this all over Vul. The production is probably not able to support such distribution.”

Doang told me, “if you want to distribute this spirit across Vul, you will want to take over the production of Gavae spirit.”

I said, with all seriousness, “Doang, I want to do much more than process and distribute spirits. Vuel is going to enter several annaros of building roads, and wagons that antrib themselves. There will be large antrib wagons that carry many vuelans between villages. Farmers and herders will have antrib plows and harvesters that will produce more than an abundance of food. The numbers of vuelans will multiply and become prosperous.”

Doang was losing track of my descriptions. I smiled and said, “Doang, you are going to have to build a much larger Bahia House.”

He looked into his cup and said, “Hetha told me you would be bringing change to vuel.” He looked up at me, over to Eloe and back to me, and said, “I did not understand the full meaning of what she was telling me.” Now he smiled, saying, “be kind to tell Doang how he can join you!”

I looked at the islands and thought to Eloe: Would you like to live on one of these islands?

Eloe asked Doang, “lo Doang, does anyone live on these islands?”

Doang said, “yes, that one over there.” He pointed toward the middle of the bay, to a large island that appeared to have structures on it. “That island is called Matagar. A few families live there. They are mostly pescadors”.

Doang set a coarse that took us closer to Matagar island. The buildings there all appeared to have two and three levels. I thought to Eloe: Do all of the buildings seem tall to you? Do you have knowledge of the islands in the Great Bay?

Eloe leaned close to me, “everything on these islands is built upon poles that hold the buildings three to four lengths above the ground. They have storm surges here that can cover the island.”

There were fishing boats in the area and we could see some boats beached on the island. I stood and pointed off the Sola side of the boat and yelled, “look! A breach!” It wasn’t a full breach, but a whale spewed air high into the air while coming halfway out of the water before splashing back into the bay. I looked at Eloe.

She looked out into the bay. Her eyes were wide. She pointed and yelled, “over there!”

I looked back out into the water in time to see a whale arch out of the water and flip his tail high into the air. I saw what Eloe was yelling about. A huge sea serpent had bitten into the whale’s tale and was whipped into the air. When the whale’s tail reached vertical, the sea serpent lost his grip and flew up into the air.

Doang started yelling to the fishing boats, though I was sure they could not hear him from this distance. I thought at first that he was yelling at them to get out of the way. Then I realized that he was telling a boat that he probably owned to go into the disturbance. I couldn’t tell if he wanted them to catch the whale or the sea serpent. I sent my question in thought to Eloe.

She pointed to the area. I saw large fish jumping out of the water. In a moment, she said, “the whale attracts the sea serpents. When the serpent is thrown from the whale’s tale, those killer whales attack the serpent.”

We watched three boats converge on the area and throw nets. There were archers on the boats holding large bows. I could see the arrows from our boat. The arrows must have been the size of spears. They would loose the arrows into the water close to their boats. The boat on the far side of the action had some activity that Doang was cheering for.

Eloe told me that she was reading from Doang that his boat on the far side had harpooned the sea serpent. We watched as another boat harpooned another sea serpent. Three other boats headed in the direction of the action, throwing their nets out as they came near.

Doang pumped his arm into the air, calling, “pesca this dim!” He called to one of the boat vuelas, “Sjia! Bow line! Sjia! Take the bow line!”

I saw the vuela that had brought us the guavavae drinks pull her ves off and run to one of the twin bows of the boat. A deck vuelo threw her a line that ran all the way to the top of the forward mast. Sjia took it and jumped forward off the bow. She swung to the middle of the line running across the bows and caught her feet on the line on each side of the jib line. Sjia turned to face forward, holding the line above her head. We all cheered as the Vuelessa’s live figurehead now bowed her body into the wind from the bow lines. Holding onto a line and standing on another line looked precarious. The vuela had knotted the mast line around her wrists. She was holding on securely.

We sailed close to the fishing boats. Close enough for Doang’s fishing crews to see and cheer our figurehead. The vuela waved to them from her perch on the lines. Doang pumped his fist to congratulate his boats for being in the right place in the bay to capture the gathering of fish and whale and sea serpent.

Eloe and I wondered if the fishing crew would try to capture the whale. Eloe, in a moment read the process and said, “the fishing crews avoid hurting the whales. The whales allow the crews to track where the schools of fish are gathering. The giant sea serpents track the whales also. The fishing crews harpoon the sea serpents to prevent them from killing the whales.”

At that moment Doang bounced up to us excitedly. He said, “there will be sea serpent on the menu this dim! The Bahia House will fly the serpent banner!”

The Vuelessa’s mainsail went slack as the helmsman turned into the wind to slow our speed. This allowed us to watch the fishing crews harpoon the huge sea serpent. I called to Doang, “it will be too large to pull onboard!”

Doang came to us and pointed to the crew using long harpoons to kill the serpent. He told me, “you are right. They will not bring this one into the boat. They will kill it and tow it to the dock. There, it will be hooked and pulled onto the beach.”

The giant serpent was not dead yet. It was annoyed, though, and curled it’s body into a circle. Doang yelled, “the Serpent has coiled!”

The serpent’s reaction was anticipated by the fishing crew. Several cords with anchors were thrown around the body of the beast that was out of the water. The serpent tried to coil itself into a knot in some sort of defensive move. The fishing crew held the cords loosely and allowed the serpent to move itself into the position they wanted. A loop was tightened and latched down. Then another and another. There was a winch on the fishing boat that the cords were latched onto. The winch was wound until the huge serpent was out of the water enough to minimize it’s ability to cause a disruption. Cheers and Ah’s went up from the two fishing crews. The second boat that had assisted was netting a boat load of fish in the area of the serpent capture.

Doang yelled and pointed. We quickly turned to see the whale splash down from a more complete breach. Doang called to us, “the whale shows her gratitude! She knows we are killing the sea serpent!”

The Vuelessa’s helmsman turned away from the scene and the mainsail snapped full, accelerating the twin hull Vuelessa across the bay. Our course took us on a long curve beyond the island of Matagar. On the horizon I saw sea cliffs and asked Eloe, “do you know anything about that island out there?”

Eloe stared at the horizon and said, “it is either Kalak or Rooba.”

Doang came up to us. He had heard what I asked and said, “that one with the cliffs is Rooba.”

I asked him, “does anyone live on that island?”

He shook his head, “no. It has no place for a boat to dock. It has water, though. There is a waterfall on the early brightness side.”

I nodded at Doang and thought to Eloe: That is exactly what we are looking for.

The dim at the Bahia House felt like the dim before the forty third. There was a definite festive mood with everyone. It was because of the capture of the sea serpent. Vuelans from all around Bahia village. The serpent was chopped up on the beach and pieces were sold and given away. Large chunks were sold to vuelans that bought them for their families or cafes. Smaller chunks were given away to vuelas with kids that came and asked for them.

Doang’s kitchen staff took most of the big chunks off to the pantry of the Bahia House. I sent the thought to Eloe: It must be a custom to give pieces of the serpent to those in need.

Eloe replied, “that is what I am reading. It also may have to do with the lack of refrigeration. The serpent flesh will go to waste in a couple of brightnesses.”

The dining room of the Bahia House was at capacity when Eloe and I walked in. I expected to be told that we would have to wait.

Eelah, one of the serving vuelas we met the previous dim, appeared from the crowd, saying to us, “lo Kregt, la Eloe, be kind to follow me, your table is waiting for you!”

I sent my thoughts of approval to Eloe: I don’t know what Doang knows about me. I wonder what he thinks I am worth to him?

Eloe leaned close to me to whisper, “I am reading thoughts that tell me we are going to find out this dim.”

Eelah guided us to a table closer to the performance platform. We were not the closest table. The tables in this area were further apart than in most of the room. The vuelans in this part of the dining room were dressed well and were being served by multiple serving vuelas.

We took our seats and were served by a team of serving vuelas. Plates of appetizers were brought. An excellent vinho was poured from a crystal pitcher into crystal chalices for both of us. We began to sample the morsels on the tray. The seafoods were delicious beyond description. We ordered the sea serpent for our entrees.

The musicians played music that was light and airy. A flute dominated the melody. I looked more closely at the placement of the tables in the area we were sitting in. Our table seemed to have one more length between it and those around us. I sent this calculation in a thought stream to Eloe.

She considered my thought, and asked, “your belief that this is purposeful, is accurate, my amoro. I am reading a thought stream that is becoming more and more clear.”

I looked down at the appetizer tray and sent the thought: Who are you reading? Can you tell?

Eloe was perplexed. Her thought reading skills are reliable. She put the crystal chalice up to her lips and said, “she is a vuelessa. Many of the words are not in vuelan. I can read some meaning. All I can tell you is that there is no ill intent.”

I had one more question for her that I asked quietly, in English “do they know you’re reading them?”

Eloe closed her eyes for a moment, then shook her head, no.

I held my chalice toward her and said, “this should be entertaining, if nothing else.”

The musicians paused in a part of a period and left their instruments to rest before the dim’s entertainment began. I wondered if we were about to find out what was gong on when Eloe said, “She is here. It is the vuelessa Hetha. She is coming through the crowd from behind us. She prefers that we do not turn around.”

I sent my thought to her: That’s interesting! Let’s not disappoint the vuelessa.

The patrons at the tables began to fall silent. The silence grew across the entire room. The serving vuelas held their trays and stood. The cause of the silence entered Eloe’s peripheral vision and she turned to look. I saw approval in Eloe’s expression.

I sent her my thought: Am I going to like this?

Eloe met my eyes and blinked slowly.

I sensed someone by our table and turned to see a stunning vuelessa step beyond the table a couple of steps. She wore a ribbon ves. The woven yellow and red strips sometimes appeared to be gold. The ribbons were wide and narrow in places that made the ves fit the vuelessa’s body as if the garment were painted on. She turned to face me now. The ribbons made their way underneath her breasts, supporting them. Though I did not send this thought, Eloe tapped the back of my hand with her finger, ever so gently, agreeing with me.

We did not see the vuelessa’s face before she went to her knees and to the floor. She unlatched her ribbon ves and placed her foot in front of herself. Her gracefulness was like watching smoke rise. When her face found mine I could see concern. Eloe tapped my hand again. The vuelessas eyes were deep green. Her hair was a yellow shade of red. This vuelessa must be a Halee. Eloe had been corded together with three Halees when she was first brought to Vul. She tapped my hand again.

Eloe spoke to me, “my amoro, the vuelessa must ask something of you.”

The vuelessa stared at Eloe now and said, “you are Eloe. You possess the skills of the vuelessa.”

I got up from my chair and picked up the vuelessa’s ves, handing it to her. She took it, saying, “you are Kregt. You are close in vuel with Aeia, the Vuelessa of Centium.”

I heard murmurs and exclaiming about the Vuelessa of Centium. I answered, “yes, vuelessa, I am Kregt and this is Eloe. We are close in vuel to the vuelessa Aeia.”

The vuelessa pulled herself into her ves and called to everyone, “I bring the announcement of danger and conflict in vuel. This is why a Vuelessa of Centium has been designated.”

Descriptions and explanations were traded among the vuelans about the designated Vuelessa of Centium. I wondered how serious this was.

The vuelessa looked into my eyes, “I am Hetha, the vuelessa of the Great Bay. I usually come to an important visitor to offer my service.” She paused and looked at the vuelans standing now and watching intently. She continued, “there is great strife in vuel. There is danger that may require the strength of the gods.”

Now I, too, was listening intently.

The vuelessa addressed the vuelans, “Vuel faces criminal hordes who destroy entire villages. In this brightness, we have received information from loyal mariners that a flotilla prepares to sail from Puerto Lavaka to attack the villages of the Great Bay.” She returned her attention to me. Hetha raised her arms and opened her palms to me and said “lo Kregt, I cannot offer to serve you. Instead, I must implore you to serve vuel. I must implore you to serve the villages of the Great Bay.”

I turned to Eloe. Do you agree that we have the knowledge to assist them to overcome an attack? We may be able to prevent the attack altogether.

Eloe nodded confidently.

“You are kind to ask, vuelessa. My espa, Eloe and I will assist you.” I turned to the vuelans watching us. “We have come here to live in the Great Bay. Who will assist me to defend our new home?”

Many of the vuelen called AH! They called out to volunteer. I was gratified for this.

Eloe stood up also. She put her hand on my shoulder. Leaning close, she said, “not all are trusting in you.”

Hetha was reading the same thoughts that Eloe was reading and asked the group, “there are those that are skeptical of the assistance that lo Kregt can provide.” She stared into the gathering. Her gaze found a vuelo and she asked him, “lo Raugaton, why are you are skeptical?”

Lo Raugaton drew the attention of many of the vuelans. He was obviously influential. He said to Hetha, “you told us that the danger we face will require the strength of the gods. We should be setting the fires of salvation to ask the gods for their help!”

Hetha was an experienced vuelessa. Now I saw her confidence. She smiled slightly at lo Raugaton and asked, “lo Raugaton, you believe that the gods already knew of our plight and the gods knew we would need their assistance in this struggle.”

Raugaton knew vuelessa Hetha. He said, “those truths are obvious, my vuelessa. Be kind to tell us what we are not aware of.”

Hetha turned to me, “lo Kregt, would you be kind to tell lo Raugaton and everyone here where you and la Eloe have been for the past few sixes.”

Did she want me to say this? I questioned this with my expression. She nodded. I called to the gathering, “my espa and I have been living with the Resjed gods above the clouds.”

Many gasps could be heard, Raugaton was impressed. Hetha smiled and asked, “will you also be kind to explain for us why you and Eloe were in the company of the red gods?”

I nodded to the vuelessa and turned to address the vuelans who were now listening intently, to me. I announced to the vuelans. “the red gods that have protected us and provided us with vuel, now want us to protect and provide for ourselves. It is their wish that we become like them. My espa, Eloe, and I were given the knowledge that will allow all vuelans to become similar to the gods themselves.”

Raugaton moved to the front of the gathering as I spoke. He as a practical vuelo. He trusted what he could grasp with his hands. He asked me a simple question, “will something within this knowledge you bring, show us how to repel the attacks of the corsairs?”

I extended my hand to Raugaton, palm up. He put his palm on mine. I told him, “lo Raugaton, the pillagers will never reach our shore!”

Loee .6

The wild stream

This story is told by Loee

The ability to read thought can protect you. It can also give you insight and knowledge. There are times when you may wish to remain ignorant. I was able to read what was about to be done with me.

They were the teraskito. Giant beetles that sense the breath that mammals exhale. They suck blood like an Earth mosquito. The teraskito cannot fly but they are as big as an Earth armadillo. I am scared to death of them. I have been corded several lengths ahead of the dog team so that the wagon driver can steer away from the teraskito when I scream out that one is in the path.

My responsibility would be easier if there was a trail. We are going in a direction. There is no trail to follow. I move forward as fast as I dare. I watch the surrounding area for the teraskito.

We had altered our path once in this late brightness. The El Fuego wagon dog team was down to five dogs. Two dogs had been removed and were being carried. I read this information from the horde members while I was being corded to the big wagon. This is the wagon that carries most of the supplies for the horde. Two other vuelas were already corded into the harness to help the dogs pull the wagon. We pulled toward the dim horizon. I sent my thought to Aeia. There was a gathering thought stream going to and coming from Aeia. My information was not the only important data being sent. We moved toward the dim horizon, I believe. This is the direction we called west on Earth. Sola is the direction that Earth calls east. The vuelan words for north and south are nor and sur.

I screamed out again. Another of the teraskito creatures was running toward me. I ran back toward the wagon. One of the vuelos speared the ugly thing as it’s mouth, or whatever the opening is called made contact with my calf muscle.

The vuelo said, “it must latch onto you before it’s prick can puncture your skin.”

I went to my knees and hugged his legs, telling him, “you are kind lo vuelo.” I looked up at him. His lust was obvious. I read his desire and prepared myself for his use. His hand was in my hair.

Tunalt called out, “Gorpid! Get that bitch to the end of her cord! We cannot hold the wagon while you amorig her.”

Gorpid was about to penetrate me when he stopped and breathed, and threw my head away from himself. He pulled himself away from me. I scrambled to my feet and hurried to the end of my cord. I looked back at Gorpid, giving him my sweetest smile. I was sure I would need him to spear another attacking teraskito.

I pulled my cord into an open field. Burnt stumps all over the field in front of me told of a fire in this area several rotations prior to now. I could see the area around myself well enough to see that there were no teraskitos close by. I sent thought to Aeia: Aeia, I am with a criminal horde that was attacking into the Geshlan valley. I prevented their attack on a village. They have taken me as loot. This was my plan. I am guiding them directly toward the dim horizon from the Geshlan valley. Send warnings to those in the path.

In a moment, I repeated my thought. Aeia, I have diverted a criminal horde that was attacking into the Geshlan valley. They have taken me as loot. This was my intention. I am guiding them directly toward the dim horizon from the Geshlan valley. Send warnings to those in the path.

I walked on through the field of grasses in the recovering forest. Many boo trees were trying to lift themselves from the ashes. I thought to myself: Shouldn’t these have recovered already? Boo trees grow quickly.

Something shiny caught my eye in the field ahead. I altered my path to go closer to the object. A large metal plate was protruding from the grasses. It was shiny like chrome and curved. I looked at it while trying not to stare at it.

The thought from one of the vuelos in the horde was: The garbage of the gods.

Then my attention was completely taken by what I had perceived to be a rock in the field. It was not a rock. Something huge was mostly buried in the field. What was not buried was a piece of a large round object. I was leading the horde through a crash site for some sort of space craft. It had been a huge spacecraft.

Sola was low in the sky now. I had been walking for periods. I looked all around the meadow we were crossing. The boo trees should be growing up more than they are. A strange smell made me wince. I tried to shake the smell from my nose. The smell became more putrid. No, not putrid, it was some kind of chemical smell that robbed my lungs of the ability to breathe.

A thought occurred in my mind: There is a contaminated area toward the dim horizon from the center of the Geshlan valley. It will look like an open meadow. Only grasses can grow there. Avoid this area. Avoid the area where trees are not growing. It is dangerous in this area. Stay away from this area.

I stopped in my footsteps. Looking back, I could see we were more than half the way through the meadow. I ran toward the wagon screaming, “run! We must get out of this place! We will die! There is poison here! Run! We must get out of this meadow!”

Tunalt and Gorpid looked at me strangely. At that moment, one of the vuelas harnessed to the wagon with the dogs regurgitated and fell to her knees.

I yelled at the vuelos, “she is already sick! We must get out of this meadow! Now!” I ran to the vuela and yelled at her to get to her feet and pull. I put my arm through her harness and helped her pull at the wagon.

The vuelos around the lead wagon believed me. They were smelling the chemical that I was smelling. I began to read panic in the vuelos in the horde. Some of them were regurgitating and others were becoming dizzy. My eyes were irritated and my sinuses began to produce larg amounts of runny mucous.

I heard Tunalt calling to the horde members behind his wagon, “Run to the trees. Get out out of this meadow! The air is poisonous here, Run!”

I pulled the harness with the vuela and she was trying to walk. She was not providing much forward power. Tunalt called the dogs and slapped the side of the wagon to make them pull faster. I leaned into the harness with the vuela. She was leaning forward to push. Her face was red and puffy. I was sure this was what my face also looked like. I began to feel nauseated but pushed into the harnessing. Many of the horde vuelen were running ahead of us now. Some of them stopped to vomit in the field as they ran along. I saw one of the horde vuelen fall face down in the grass and stop moving altogether.

We were lengths away from the trees at the edge of the area of contamination. There were stunted boo trees in this area that were struggling against the poisons. I was spitting mucous and sweating profusely, pushing toward the boo trees with any energy I had left. I did not turn my head to either side of me. Vuelen were falling to the ground, crawling forward and spitting into the grass.

Reaching the boo trees, I laid there for more than a period. The first thing I did was look for the dogs to see if they survived. They seemed to be alright. I was breathing without much effort. My sinuses were not inflamed as much as before. I lifted up on my elbow to see what the situation was. The vuela in the harnessing that I pulled with was not moving. I touched her neck to feel for a pulse. She was alive.

I heard a voice, “if you had not told us to run, we would have all died out there.”

I turned to see Tunalt, leaning against the wagon. He had bloody mucous on his face that had run down his neck. His voice sounded horrible. He coughed some more mucous up. I spoke to him, “have you never come this way before?”

Tunalt shook his head and made a noise that I read as a no. A breeze picked up from deep in the forest and I breathed deep. Fresh air had never been so welcome. During part of a period my sinuses began to open and my sight cleared. I raised up on one knee to test my ability to stand. Feeling steady, I stood up to look around the area the horde was in. The boo trees were thinner than usual in this part of the forest.

Tunalt asked me, “can you see the field? Are there many that did not make it out of the poisons?”

I was surveying the area we were in. My rough estimate was that half of the vuelen in the horde were in the boo forest. They were moving. They were alive. I walked to Tunalt, wiped my face and said, “I am afraid to look.”

He loosened the knot around my waist to allow me to go look in the meadow. The breeze was steady from the forest. Walking to the edge of the field I could see ten or fifteen vuelen in the grasses that were not moving. I stared for a moment, trying to read thoughts from the field, anything at all. There was no pain, no fear, nothing. Nothing at all. I tried to remember how many vuelen were in the horde as I walked back into the forest of boo trees. This incident had decimated the horde. Those who remained could not threaten a small village. These survivors would have to recover first. I wondered what lasting effects the poisonous air would cause within us. It had caused severe reactions but I felt no effects on my breathing now that my mucous production was back to normal.

The vuelen in the boo forest had run from the meadow, heeding the warning. The survivors were now thinking of their horde brothers who scoffed at the warning. Those who had scoffed at the warning laid dead in the meadow. I wondered, where was Delfoag? I tried to read any thoughts pertaining to him. I found his thoughts. He was here in the forest somewhere.

I went back to Tunalt to tell him, “there are many dead in the grasses. They did not believe the warning of the danger.” He looked up at me and I asked, “you believed my warning. Why did you believe me?”

At that moment we both heard Delfaog call out, “Tunalt! Bring the screaming vuela to me!”

Tunalt grabbed a fist full of my hair and pulled me along with my head at his hip. He threw me to the ground in front of Delfoag. I lifted myself to the horde leader. There was bloody spit on his chin.

I did not know what my appearance was, but said to him, “I will serve you, lo vuelo.”

His thoughts of me were wary and suspicious. He was leaning on an elbow, “tell me, gift of Sola, did you know about that poisonous meadow before we were in the middle of it?”

I shook my head slowly, “No, lo vuelo. I have never been aware of anything like that on Vul.” I read that he believed me. He was also superstitious. He believed I was bringing horrible events to his horde.

He continued, “you recognized that the air was poisonous to us.” Questions filled his mind. “You appear to have been less affected by the poisons.” This may have been true. I was not sure why. Delfoag wanted to kill me but he needed me. He needed my value. I read that he was in debt to someone or he owed something to someone important.

Delfoag told Tunalt, “take her to the coastal pass road. Label her for delivery to Puerto Lavaka.”

The name of the important entity that Delfoag was thinking of was Cabezan. He did not say this name to Tunalt. The name was understood. A tag was corded behind my neck. My wrists were corded to my waist cord, which was all I wore. I could not read the tag for myself. I didn’t have to. It was read every time a vuelo checked it. There was nervous laughter each time my transport tag was read. The importance of my undamaged delivery to the vuelo known as Cabezan was well known by all who handled me. I could not read details of the Cabezan. None of the vuelans that came into contact with me during my transport had seen the Cabezan. Some of them were unsure that he was a vuelo or that he existed at all. In the moments I was in the presence of Delfaog I read that I was being sent to cover a debt owed to the entity known as Cabezan.

During my transport I communicated with Aeia: Vuelessa Aeia, this is vuelessa Loee, I was with the El Fuego horde that did not attack the Geshlan villages. We traveled through the poisonous meadow that you warned me about. The poisons made me and the horde vuelen sick Many of the horde vuelen died in the meadow. I am being sent to an entity called Cabezan in Puerto Lavaka.

I received an answer from the vuelessa Ua instead of Aeia: Loee, this is Ua Exerva. Are you able to trade thought with me?

I thought: Yes, Ua Exerva, I am calm and able to read you clearly.

Ua Exerva continued her thought stream after a moment, during which she read my experiences: I am reading that you are in danger. You are kind to inform us and you are brave to allow yourself to be taken by the hordes. I have also read of your relationship with Talvik. He is a wonderful vuelo and trusted Tesar!

You were unable to be part of the gathering of vuelessas that proclaimed Aeia as the Vuelessa of Centium. This title exists only when overwhelming danger threatens vuel. All vuelessas are now involved in the effort to destroy the hordes. The vuelessa Era has informed us that there is an over arching leader of the hordes. This vuelo dispatches and controls the hordes from his palace in Puerto Lavaka. Information that you are able to provide from inside the hold of Cabezan will be of great value. May the God of Sola be with you.

The thought stream from Ua Exerva was received clearly in my mind. I returned her thought: You are kind Ua Exerva. I will send all that I can find about lo Cabezan to you.

She sent me another thought: If you approve, my Loee, I will continue to stream your thoughts into my own while you are in danger.

I returned her thought: Then I will have no fear, my Ua Exerva.

The intersection on the Coastal Pass road where I was picked up as cargo was three or four horizons away from Puerto Lavaka. My common thought stream with Ua Exerva confirmed that lo Cabezan was a vuelo and not a description of the central authority for the hordes. I learned nothing of where I was being taken. No information about the hold of lo Cabezan was available.

I napped as I was able to in the box I was transported in. This box had solid walls, with bars in the floor and ceiling. I could see Govul in the sky and watched it glow through the dim. This experience, like everything else I had seen in vuel, was surreal. During the dim I stared up at Govul. I thought to myself: I am being taken as a captive to the arch leader of the criminal hordes of Vul. I’m wearing only the cords that confine me and the crystals of my vuelessa necklace. I am in real danger, and I could not feel any more alive.

Late into the following dim I was awakened by vuelen talking. The wagon I was in was outside the hold of lo Cabezan. I could read that my delivery was not scheduled and this was irregular. The vuelo at the gate or door was demanding to see what was being delivered. The teamster delivering me was saying that he did not want to open the box outside the gate and he wanted his payment upon delivery.

The teamster told the guard, “go ahead and climb up and look into the box. You will see why I do not want to open the box outside.”

The guard finally gave in and I heard him climbing up on the wagon. I was on my back on the bars on the floor of the box. My waist cord was attached to the floor bars. The guard was going to get a good look at me in the strong glow from Govul that was now overhead.

A face framed by a helmet extended over the bars of the top of my box. The guard held his gaze for a long moment. I didn’t have to read his mind as his eyes combed my body.

A series of knocks were made and a loud latching noise occurred. We rolled into the hold and the door closed behind us. The light from Govul filled this area also. There was more talking. The teamster refused to allow anyone to get me out of the box until he was paid. Light from Sola began to appear before someone came in to the yard from the hold and paid the teamster. I was released from the cords in the box and bracelets were snapped around my wrists and ankles. A stride cord ran between my ankle bracelets allowing a short stride. I would not be running away. I did read from the vuelo that attached the stride cord how it latched onto my ankle bracelets. I believed I would be able to release myself if I had the opportunity.

A vuela came and took me from the guard. My wrist bracelets were latched together behind my back. She cut into my buttock without warning or thought with her whit. I exhaled, releasing a cry of pain. Her wit stung me worse than anything I had ever imagined.

The vuela yelled into my ear, “I am the maiden here! You will call me maiden! You are my little bitch! Follow me, little bitch.”

I did follow her. The fresh sting radiated through my entire body from my bottom cheek. My eyes watered from the pain. I took unsteady steps brushing my thighs together and felt the urine that I had released run down my thigh. This was not the way this was supposed to have happened. I was supposed to be presented to lo Cabezan as a prize. The maiden changed all of that. I was now a whipped captive that had lost control of her bladder as well as her composure. The stinging pain of that wit controlled me. Had I stopped peeing? The pain filled my consciousness.

I struggled to gain my composure as well as my balance. The sting was decreasing to only a searing pain within my bottom. It slowly released it’s hold over my entire body. I became sure that I was in control of my bladder again.

Clear thoughts from Ua Exerva pushed the pain from my mind: Loee! The sting will subside! I have felt the wit and the lash and I felt the maiden’s wit with you. We are vuelessas. The maiden is cruel. Brutality is all she knows. You must show her the kindness of vuel!

I breathed. I calmed. I sent my thought back to Ua Exerva: You are kind to stay with me.

I followed the maiden to a passageway where we stopped. This was a place that new vuelas were assessed. The maiden yelled at me, “wait here! Put your face to the floor!”

I was reading the maiden’s full meaning. I faced the wall though she had not said to do so. I went to my knees and put my face down until I touched the floor with my nose and forehead. I read the maiden’s dismay as she had intended to strike me with her wit again before telling me to turn and face the wall. She had considered striking me across my bottom again even thought I faced the wall correctly. I winced at the floor. She decided not to strike me and walked away.

Ua came into my mind: You read that well, Loee. She did intend to strike you. I am reading that this is where you will meet lo Cabezan.

I kept myself on the floor. My wrists were held behind my back by the latch on my bracelets. I waited while hearing many vuelans pass by. The vuelas commented to each other that I was well marked by the maiden’s whit. The vuelen joked with each other and told me they would return soon to help me forget my whipping. None of the vuelen dared to touch me. I could read their thoughts that lo Cabezan would come here to dispense with me. They were curious about what my face looked like.

My thought went to Ua: This is not how I was to be presented to Lo Cabezan. I am a whipped vuela. He will see only my wit marked bottom!

Ua’s thought replied immediately: Loee, you control what will happen. Aeia’s protector, Murgad advises us constantly that the next move is always yours.

The brightness continued and I kept my face to the floor, shifting my legs and knees when I could to prevent fatigue. Thoughts along with pieces of conversation came to me over the periods that I was face down. I could read thoughts that told me that mid brightness had come and gone. It would soon be late brightness. The traffic in the passageway increased and I finally had to move my knees while some vuelen were there. I didn’t think they were paying close attention to my movements.

I may have been incorrect about their attention. One of them said, “lo Cheliteg, you were right, the vuela cannot prevent her desire for me!”

Cheliteg, who was familiar with the boastfulness of this vuelo said, “Purmit, you see desire in the cattle in the meadow. That vuela continues to writhe only from the sting of the whit!”

I read that Purmit was kneeling behind me and that he was about to touch me.

Telepathic ability can tell you what any vuelan is about to do. In this way you are able to see the immediate future. A vuelessa can avoid an occurrence or prepare herself to alter the outcome of that occurrence. This was my chance to make what Ua had told me was my next move. I took the opportunity that this vuelo was offering and decided to use his desire to make my move.

Purmit did not notice my back invert to make my vagina more accessible to him. He had only intended to push his fingers into me. He expected to find my labia dry, thinking that I would find his touch to be uncomfortable. He intended to arouse me against my will. He was also not intending to use his penis to penetrate me.

I made certain that his fingers slipped easily between my labia. I heard his gasp when, with no effort, his fingers pushed into my moist vagina. When his fingers were deep in me, I tightened around them.

The vuelo called out, “the vuela is despertada!”

I had not heard this word in vuel before. The meaning I read for this word was extreme arousal.

Purmit could not control himself now and I was amoriged within seconds. He called out again, “she is in estra! She is in great estra.”

This word was familiar. Estra, taken from the Earth word estrus, meant in heat. I squeezed his shaft and timed his pull to clench, ejecting his penis from me. Laughter erupted from the vuelos in the hallway. He was now the despertada, clumsily penetrating me again. I read his approaching climax and grasped his shaft to force his ejaculation.

The vuelo groaned his surprise at what had happened. The other vuelos in the passageway exclaimed, “The vuela is too much for you, Purmit!” “We can see who the despertada is here!”

Purmit regained his consciousness enough to call out, “She is a wild stream!′

I was quickly penetrated by another vuelo. He, too, was unable hold his penetration and ejaculated quickly. Purmit called out to him, “now you see! You see what I am talking about!”

Another vuelo penetrated me. Then followed by another. I used most of my mind to read and dispense with the vuelos that were amoriging me. I was also able to read that my vagina was quickly becoming well known. I am describing these encounters in this way because I must be honest, none of the vuelos had seen my face yet. The vuelen from all of the hold were rushing to see and perhaps experience the wild stream vuela.

Ua was following my thoughts: You have enhanced your value to lo Cabezan. This changes your situation. It has also increased the danger you are in. I attempted this strategy once before and I was not as successful as you have been. I envy your talent.

I considered Ua’s last thought, when she added: The increase in danger is insignificant when measured with the danger you already face in this situation. I will stay with you.

There were many vuelen that experienced the wild stream and several more were now lined up and waiting when I heard a voice booming in the passageway, “What in Sola is happening here?”

This voice was not lo Cabezan but that of a lieutenant. The voice continued, “have you not had enough vuelas to amorig? What is so special about this vuela?”

The lieutenant’s name was Nazlok. He ranked high in the hordes and acted for lo Cabezan. His thoughts were frustrated when he leaned down and read my transport tag. I read more of my transport tag from this vuelo’s thoughts. He could tell that I was sent from Delfoag. His thoughts revealed that the numbers in Delfaog’s horde were cut in half. This did not occur in the thoughts of any of the vuelos that read the tag during my transport. Code words and numbers had been used in my transport tag.

The vuelo Nazlok grumbled to himself, “let’s see what kind of zebry face Delfoag has sent us.” He was sure that he would find me to be an ugly vuela. My bracelets were unlatched and I was pulled up by one arm. His hand pulled my face to his. His expression revealed his surprise that I was, instead, pretty. Then he thought that I was a beautiful vuela.

He checked my transport tag again. This time he read that I was sent to lo Cabezan for payment toward a debt. He held me at his arm’s length and assessed me carefully. I inhaled as my breasts were scrutinized. I opened my mouth and tilted my head to toss my hair. I read from him that I would settle much of Delfoag’s debt. While I had his attention, I touched my tongue to my upper lip with my mouth open. Oh yes, he was now restraining himself from amoriging me.

Nazlok narrowed his eyes. His thought told me he would amorig me later. He called to the vuelen that remained in the passageway, “you all have had enough of this little bitch for now.” He grabbed a hand full of my hair pulled me along with him. He was taking me to lo Cabezan. There was grumbling from the vuelen as we left the passageway.

Ua Exerva’s thought stream came into my mind: Your bravery has become known to all the vuelessas in vuel. Many of them are now monitoring you through me.

I skidded to the floor when Nazlok threw me down in front of lo Cabezan. Clumped on the floor, I waited. Lo Cabezan was not paying attention to me yet. Then, I read Cabezan sending me horrific thoughts meant to terrorize me: You will be the spectacle for my guests this dim. You will be dual impaled through both your anus and your vagina. The impaling spears will protrude through your face before you die.

Concurrently, Ua sent her thought: Do not react! This is a test. Cabezan wants to know if you are reading his mind. Do not move. He is turning now to see if you tremble with fear.

I was reading lo Cabezan also. His thoughts for me were threatening and he watched me carefully. I held perfectly still for a moment, then I gave him something else to consider.

Lo Cabezan’s thoughts told me what to do: Is she spreading her legs? Her back furrows and her tail lifts up to invite penetration. He considered what he was observing for a moment. He thought: This vuela is a natural seductress. Delfoag did not know what this vuela was capable of or he would not have sent her to me.

Ua sent her thought: He has decided that you cannot read his mind, but be careful.

Nazlok did not know what lo Cabezan had been thinking to determine if my mind was being read. He unlocked my cords and told Cabezan what was on my transport tag.

Lo Cabezan spoke to me, “look up at me vuela.” He also sent thought telling me: Stay on your knees.

I placed my foot in front and lifted, ignoring the instruction in his thought. My hands swept up my thighs and waist, coming under my breasts as I stood. Before lifting my face to his, I said, “I will serve you.” Only then did I look into the eyes of lo Cabezan.

He assessed me thoroughly, stopping at my face, where he found a pleasant smile. He said to me, “so you are the wild stream that has disrupted my entire hold.”

I continued my show of ignorance. I announced, “I was to be delivered to the hold in Puerto Lavaka. Are you the keeper of this hold, lo vuelo?”

The vuelo was impressed. He believed I wished to be in the correct place. He also decided in this moment to not say his name to me. He said, “this is the Cabezan hold. You are in the right place.” He knew I was a vuelessa by the vuelessa necklace that was clearly visible. His question became more serious. He had been told by Nazlok that Delfoag’s horde had been seriously reduced and he wondered why Delfoag had given me up. He asked, “can you tell me what happened to the horde of Delfaog?”

I dropped my expression into sullenness. I took a breath and told him, “the horde of Delfoag was headed toward the dim horizon when we crossed a wide open meadow. There were grasses there and what appeared to be burned trees. I was walking out in front to guide and avoid the awful teraskitos.”

I shuddered when I said the name teraskito. I did not have to pretend that I hated the memory of this giant insect. I continued my description, “I began to notice that the trees were not growing back from what I thought had been a wild fire. That is when I noticed, in front of us, a large object that is not of Vul and did not belong in vuel. This object was placed in the meadow by the gods. At that moment, a horrible odor filled my senses and I realized it was poisonous. I yelled for everyone to run to the other side of the meadow to escape the poisons.”

I stopped my explanation and stared at the vuelo, waiting for him to ask me to continue.

He motioned to me to do so.

I said, “many of the members of the horde did not heed the warnings and died in the meadow, having breathed too much of the poisons.”

Delfoag had been a suspicious vuelo, but he was trusting compared to this vuelo. He asked me, “how did you recognize the poisonous air?”

I told him the truth, “I was brought here from the faraway lands. Places that are poisoned are well known there. When I smelled those smells, I knew what it was.”

My answer brought his next question, “how did you come to be with Delfoag?”

I described that occurrence, “I was assigned to the far Geshlan villages.” It became known that a horde was coming toward the villages and a trap was set. I wore the string ves of the village to help the vuelos warn of the coming horde attack.”

The vuelo was suspicious, “how did you fall in with the horde?”

I inhaled. He watched my breasts as I did. I was sure I had his complete attention. I told him, “the plan to warn the villagers had a flaw. Smoke was supposed to warn the village of the attack but a wind blew the smoke away that brightness. I could tell there would be a horrible outcome.”

The vuelo was more suspicious now, “an armed force ready to take on the horde. Who were you concerned for?”

I was sure this vuelo would be amazed. I told him, “lo vuelo, the first village was the target of the horde. It had been abandoned. The horde was going to have to run another thousand lengths to the next village where the armed force was waiting. The horde vuelen would have been exhausted and would have been easy prey for the armed and ready villagers.”

The vuelo sneered, “I was willing to believe you up to this point. Why would you, gift of Sola, wish to save the lives of the vuelen in the horde?”

I understood that these vuelen used the term gift of Sola as a derogatory term for a vuelessa. I looked through and past the vuelos eyes and said, “you are right, lo vuelo. The horde would have been killed or driven away. However, the villagers would also have had near complete losses. I am a vuelessa. I must prevent such an occurrence if I am able. I was running with the vuelos that were retreating to the next village. I stopped in a woods by a creek that we were crossing and turned back. I waited for the horde to reach me so I could warn them.”

The vuelo was more suspicious now, yet he was believing my story. He looked to Nazlok and back to me, “what happened when the horde vuelen came upon you?”

I lowered my head to answer, “several vuelen fought each other to reach me first. Three of these vuelen were killed in the fight. When Delfaog came and stopped the fight, he killed a fourth vuelo.”

Cabezan could not believe I had put myself in such danger. He asked, “you simply gave yourself to the attacking horde? Why should I believe this happened?”

I nodded to Nazlok, “lo Nazlok can not remove his eyes from me. The horde vuelen and Delfoag himself had never met a seductress such as I am.” I tilted my head toward the vuelo, “lo vuelo, it is my understanding that loot is why vuelen fight for the hordes.” I brushed my fingers under my breasts to lift them slightly and said to him, “I did not fear for my own safety.”

While I was telling the vuelo this I was reading the plans of the El Fuego horde. He had in his mind of all of the plans of the separate hordes that were attacking in different places. Delfoag was leading a large force within the El Fuego to destroy small villages but this was not the end purpose of the plan. Weakening the commerce of the region would strain the resources of the larger villages, which would make them more vulnerable. This was why Delfoag was willing to forego the attack on the next village. I could read that a large force was ready to attack a major village but the information of what village was unclear to me.

I sent my question in a thought to Ua: Are you reading this? Are they preparing to attack a major village? What village are they going to attack?

The vuelo did not look away from me. He asked Nazlok, “is it true that you are looking at her and at nothing else?”

Nazlok scoffed and laughed. He said, “the little bitch believes a vuelo cannot take his eyes from her. I have looked away from her at least twice.”

Ua sent her answer: I have the information. May Sola be with you.

I thought to Ua: What do you mean?

She answered: It will be confirmed for you. Wait for it.

The vuelo assessed me again.

I wondered to myself: What is going on in his mind? There is something to do with a boat?

He said to Nazlok, “cord her on the amorig platform for the fest.”

Ukaya held her finger in front of my face and said to me, “Look straight forward.” She applied colored oil to my cheeks.

When she paused to get a new color I asked, “Ukaya, you are kind to help me. Why are you helping me?”

Quickly, she said, “all vuelas in the hold are my responsibility. You must look presentable for the fest this dim.”

The fest had been mentioned by the vuelo that ruled the hold of lo Cabezan. Though he had not used his name, I read that he was lo Cabezan. I did not want to use the name that I read was his, though I did want to get information from Ukaya. I asked her, “what is the fest?”

She became sullen when I asked this. There was something about the fest that she feared. She lifted her face to me saying, “it is an important celebration for all of Puerto Lavaka!”

The difficulty behind her smile was easy to read. The fest was the celebration before the ships sailed away. Ukaya feared that many of the marujos would not return. I began to read that the ships were sailing off to make raids on coastal villages. The vuelen did not always come back. Ukaya had lost many vuelen that she cared about during these voyages. I continued to read what I could. She did not know where the ships were going on this voyage. Then I read that this secrecy bothered her. She usually was told where they were going but this time no one was talking and she was worried.

The amorig platform where I was corded was a step higher and on the front of the platform. There were many vuelas in the plaza crowd with the vuelen. The vuelas would occasionally be amoriged on one of the tables while other vuelans feasted and drank vinho. I was fed before I was brought to this platform. My wrists were corded to rings on the floor. This allowed me to move about as I wished.

A vuelo called to me, “do you remember me vuela?”

I had read his name when he amoriged me in the passageway the previous brightness.

I called back to him.“lo Taltalp! I wanted you to stay in me forever!”

A vuelo with him called to me, “every vuelo stayed in you longer than he did!”

I called to that vuelo, “lo Ning! I wished you had stayed in me longer!”

Several vuelos laughed at this and slapped Ning on his back. They had all drunk plenty of vinho.

Cheering began to be heard around the plaza. This platform and a raised plaza were in front of the hold of lo Cabezan. The plaza in front of us faced the buildings of Puerto Lavaka on the far side and the harbor on the rechan side as I looked out from my platform. I could see the masts of several large boats. A couple of them could have been ships. The Ahs were coming from more of the vuelans now. I turned to see Nazlok and some vuelas walking onto the large platform. Once they were at a table on the large platform, everyone looked toward the doors of the hold. Trumpets blared from the walls of the hold as lo Cabezan walked out onto the platform.

The Ahs were thunderous now. Cabezan was a popular leader. This was an industry. This was the largest provider of jobs in this entire region of Vul. Cabezan was the boss, the jeffe, the chief. The provider of livelihood for the vuelans of Puerto Lavaka was appreciated. I sent my thoughts to Ua: Are you reading this, my Ua? How will anyone ever break down this level of gratitude and loyalty to lo Cabezan?

Ua Exerva sent her answer in thought instantly: We will destroy them the same way he and his hordes intended to take over large villages, we will weaken them from the outside.

Food and vinho was brought up on the platform for Nazlok and Cabezan and the vuelas with them. When they had eaten some of the food., the vuelas came toward the front of the platform and formed a circle. They began to pass a bottle of vinho among themselves. They each took a drink and passed the bottle to the next vuela. When the bottle was empty, the vuela that did not get a drink from the bottle lost her ves. The Ahs were were loud but not as loud as they had been for lo Cabezan.

The game continued and most of the vuelas on the platform had lost their vesses now. The Ahs were becoming louder, especially when one of the vuelas that had no ves on was taking a drink. I could read that the vuelen gathering at the edge of the platform were awaiting the vuelas. I soon learned why this was.

One of the naked vuelas took the bottle of vinho and looked disappointed. She turned the bottle upside down and shook it. Now the Ahs grew. The vuelen at the edge of the platform were waving to the vuela. They held up bottles of vinho, offering her a drink.

The vuela looked at them as if she was surprised at the offer. She was grateful that they would offer her some vinho. The vuelen waved to her, inviting her to the edge of the platform. This game and the back and forth went on for a few moments. The vuela, at last bent down to take the offered bottle and was hauled off the platform into the vuelen’s arms. She shrieked false outrage while she kicked and waved her arms to escape. She obviously did not protest enough to dissuade the attentions of the vuelen and she was put on one of the tables and amoriged. She did get the bottle of vinho, which she appeared to finish off before she held it up in the air above the back of the vuelo amoriging her.

This game continued until all but one of the vuelas had gone into the crowd to amorig with the vuelen. The last remaining vuela had now drank almost an entire bottle of vinho and was unsteadily walking toward the edge of the platform. This vuela not only was the last on the platform, she also had not lost her ves. The vuela shook her head saying that she could not finish the bottle of vinho. The vuelen waved to her to come to them and they would help her finish. The vuela laughed and poiinted at them, “I know what you will do if I let you help me drink my bottle!”

The vuelen assured her that they would only help her finish the bottle. The vuela finally agreed and went to the edge of the platform. She handed them the bottle and held up her finger to make them promise, “we must finish this first!”

The vuelen all promised. Three vuelen drank the bottle dry and gave it to a vuelo that was acting as a referee. He checked the bottle and announced, “The bottle is officially empty!” He handed it to the last vuela. She checked the bottle by trying to get another drop to come out and nodded. She took her ves off and fell into the arms of the vuelen.

Soon, the revelers began to call for the wild stream. They were calling for me. One or two of the vuelen grabbed the edge of my platform to crawl up before they were pulled back to the plaza. The calls diminished when there was no reaction from leaders on the platform. I could read from the revelers that a vuela corded on this platform is usually given to the crowd of vuelen during these fests. I also read from some of the revelers that they did not expect me to be offered to them this dim. I sat down with my legs folded under me and waited, wondering what was going to happen. Ua, are you reading this? Can you tell what is going on?

Ua was there. She sent me her thoughts: There is an important announcement to be made. It will tell what we want to know and it will involve you. Wait for it.

I waited. The excitement of the vuelas that were given to the crowd of vuelen was subsiding. I read anticipation from the crowd for some announcement. I read from the leaders on the platform, Nazlok in particular, that the announcement was coming. I stood up again and stretched and turned to flex my legs. Many of the vuelen became excited when they saw me moving. I was arousing them unintentionally.

One of the vuelen called to me, “I will help you stretch!” Another called, “I am much better for you, wild stream!” Another pushed both of them and announced, “if anyone gets the wild stream it will be me!”

A melee was about to break out when drums were heard. The drums continued until everyone in the plaza was paying attention.

Lo Cabezan walked toward the crowd. He stopped and looked across the crowd in the plaza. He suddenly extended both arms calling, “El Fuego! El Fuego! El Fuego!”

The crowd in the plaza went into a frenzy and chanted with him, “El Fuego! El Fuego! El Fuego! El Fuego! El Fuego! El Fuego! El Fuego!”

Lo Cabezan waved his arms to stop the chant. He called to his horde, “El Fuego has marched across Vul! Now El Fuego will sail across the mar!”

The Ahs were frenetic. Gradually, the El Fuego chant returned to the plaza. Lo Cabezan waved his arms to signal another announcement. He called, “El Fuego will sail to the Great Bay!”

The Ahs were louder this time. This announcement thrilled the crowd. The El Fuego chant started up again. This time the chant was deafening. I tried to read the thoughts of Cabezan.

Lo Cabezan stepped toward me. I wondered: What is he going to do with me?

Loud enough for only me to hear, he said, “my wild stream, you are going to lead El fuego.”

What is he saying? He must be insane.

I sent my question to Ua. Once again, her thought stream told me: Wait for it.

Lo Cabezan motioned to me and called to the crowd, “do you see this vuela? She is a beauty! Some of you have amoriged her. Did you find pleasure and excitement within her+ hold?”

The crowd cheered at this. Some called out, “she is a wild stream!” “Yes! She is more exciting than a wild stream!”

He pointed at the vuelen that gave these descriptions and continued, “you found that this is no usual vuela. This is a vuelessa! You found that she is an expert in seduction and amorig!”

The vuelen in the crowd called out, “give her to us! She can amorig us until the brightness!”

Lo Cabezan waved his arms and called out, “this is only one vuelessa.” He looked across the plaza and said, “and there are hundreds of Puerto Lavaka vuelen. The vuelen of Puerto Lavaka deserve hundreds of vuelessas!”

The vuelen in the plaza roared their agreement. This time the drums pounded with their cheers. The drums beat louder and the roar was mind numbing. Lo Cabezan let the vuelen of Puerto Lavaka roar their approval until they began to subside.

Someone from behind me released my wrist bracelets from the cords. Lo Cabezan took my wrists and held them together over my head, lifting me so that I was on my toes. He looked across the roaring crowd and waved his arm. When they quieted he called out in full voice to them, “in the Great Bay, there are hundreds of vuelessas. All of them are beautiful and they all amorig the same as this wild stream!

The roar of the crowd increased again. The drums beat along with the roar.

Lo Cabezan held me up on my toes and pushed me to the front of the step up platform. The drums stopped and he called out, “We sail for the Great Bay with this wild stream on our prow!”

Aeia 1.5

Vuel will become a civilization

This story is told by Aeia

Vuelessa, will we be able to fly like the birds?

I smiled at the vuela. The vuelan understanding of physical principles was limited. I told her, “only the birds are able to fly like birds. We will be able to fly higher and faster than any bird. We will fly in machines that we have created.”

I looked back to Brintelen. His questions revealed a deeper understanding. He called, “vuelessa, this creator God that you described. What does he look like?”

Brintelen did not care what the creator God looked like. He asked me this question so that I could tell the gathering in the Cart Racing stadia, I answered. “the creator God is seen in what is created. When you see the stars in the sky and the glow of Govul, you see the creator god. When you see the flowers in the meadow or a newborn kid, you are seeing the creator God.”

A vuelo that had been listening closely heard my answer and asked, “is that why the red gods discouraged worship and adulation from vuelans?”

I shrugged at this question. I said, “lo vuelo, that makes sense to me.”

Another vuelo in the crowd that was skeptical of all of this called out, “I do not believe there is any creator God at all and if there is such a God he should send the thunder from the sky to prove to all of us that he exists!”

I had spoken to this vuelo earlier. I read that his question was cooperative in nature. I called to him, “lo Kalsantin, the creator God gave vuelans free will. You are free to believe that there is no creator God. You are free to believe that Vul was created by some random accident.”

Many in the gathering laughed at such a notion.

Kalsantin pressed, “if I do not believe in the creator god, will I be struck down in some future brightness?” He looked into the sky quickly and added, “if not this brightness?”

Kalsantin’s question made some of the vuelans in the gathering uneasy. I answered carefully, “you will not be struck down by the creator God. The creator God will always treat you as his most valued creation.”

I stopped my explanations when a period of time had passed. Some of the vuelans in the stadia had left the stadia and I could read that there was a larger gathering outside the stadia and that crowd was growing. I held my hands up to the gathering in the stadia and announced, “I must leave now. Be kind to tell anyone you meet that I will explain and discuss all that I know of the gods on the sixth brightness on the plaza.”

The crowds outside the Cart Stadia were already beyond control. I went to the high area of the stadia to speak to the vuelans in the lanes. I called to them, “vuelans of Centium, go and enjoy your vuel! All will be explained. I will tell all when Sola is highest on the sixth.”

The vuelans in the lanes moved little. They did allow our wagon to leave the stadia. Questions were called to me from every direction. I called out to them, “on the sixth, high Sola on the plaza.”

Tuhukt drove the wagon to the plaza. I wanted to check the constables planks to pay for any vuelans or recent arrivals from the faraway lands. Exerva and Exthius left us on the plaza to walk to their residence. I watched them for a moment, thinking: I am happy for you, Zann. Gald took the opportunity of being in Centium to meet with an officer of the count house that is owned by the businesses in the Permian region that he represents.

The planks had only one vuelo unclaimed this late brightness. The vuelans in the area called out to me, “vuelessa! It is said that you are the vuelessa of Centium! Is this true?” Others said to each other, “the exchange vuelessa continues to come to the planks though she is the vuelessa of Centium.” Some called to me, “are the gods watching out for us, vuelessa? Tell us of the God of Sola, vuelessa!”

I read details about the last request and paused to answer, “Istia, you are already familiar with the God of Sola.”

The vuela Istia smiled and her eyes widened when I spoke to her. She controlled her joy with difficulty. She called to me, “I knew the creator God would send someone to teach of his presence in vuel.” She reached out to touch me and when she did I sensed the charisma she carried.

I read this vuela’s background. She was from Earth and had studied the religions of Earth at a philosophical level. Her knowledge was extensive compared to my rudimentary knowledge of the subject. She had been in vuel for a couple of annaros and had been seeking someone such as me from the brightness she arrived. I caressed her hands and pulled her close, whispering to her, “the creator God sent someone to vuel to deliver that message more than two annaros ago. That vuela has been waiting for someone to give her permission to speak.” I put my forehead on hers and said, “Istia, I am a vuelessa. My only ability is to encourage those vuelans with skills and knowledge to advance vuel. You were brought into vuel to bring the truth of the God of Sola. Vuel is eager to learn this truth.”

A calmness filled the vuela. She nodded, saying, “you are kind, vuelessa. I understand.”

Murgad walked with me up to the planks where the lone vuelo stared forward. I stopped and grabbed his arm. Murgad understood why I was taking his arm. He prepared for danger, stepping forward without me toward the vuelo on the planks. I read no thought whatsoever from the vuelo. The vuelo’s enhanced intelligence was programmed to recognize my name or possibly my voice. I had said nothing but the vuelans in the crowd were calling out my name.

Murgad suddenly stepped in front of me. A scream came from the crowd as Murgad pushed me away. A guttural shriek came from the vuelo. I rolled on the plaza, looking up to see Murgad lifting the vuelo into the air. A spike protruded through the top of the skull, taking the life and any ability to react away from the programmed unit that appeared to be vuelan. I didn’t see what Murgad reacted to. I was falling away, having been pushed away by his hand.

Screams came from the crowd of onlookers now. “It is one of the invaders!” “An attacker has tried to kill the vuelessa!” “Murgad has saved the vuelessa again!”

Many of the vuelen in the crowd rushed around us. Some of them grasped each others arms to form a ring to protect me. I was sure they did not think Murgad needed their assistance. I became aware of an arm over me belonging to a large vuelo. I read his thought. He was a Tesar. I had been unaware of his presence.

Murgad slapped the body he had neutralized onto the plaza and checked on my condition. He saw me under the arm of the Tesar and asked the ranger, “Nelcanon, is that you?”

The Tesar crouching over me on the plaza said, “it is me, Murgad! I left the fights an annaro after you did and sought less dangerous work.”

I lifted myself on an elbow as the ranger, Nelcanon, stood up to go to Murgad and the dead vuelo. I called to him, “ranger, was there data that this danger was present?”

Nelcanon said to me, uneasily, “no, my vuelessa. There was no such data, but we are not sure of our data. We are taking the precaution of following you.”

The vuelans in the crowd were calling out to each other, “an assassin tried to kill the vuelessa.” “Murgad has killed an assassin that threatened Aeia!” The vuelen that had formed a ring around me asked me, “are you alright, vuelessa?” “Are you hurt in any way?”

I answered them all, “vuelen, you all acted quickly and without thinking of your own safety. You are all too kind!” They offered their hands to help me to my feet. Instead, I put my face to the plaza and unlatched my ves. I did not rise my by myself, though. I extended my hands to two of the vuelen and they helped me stand. I looked at each one of them and said, “I will serve all of you.”

One of the vuelen picked up my ves and handed it to me while the others continued to stand in a ring around me. Vuel is so different. I stood naked for the vuelen who encircled me to protect me. They assessed me quickly, then looked into my eyes. They saw my gratitude.

Two magistrates came running out to the planks from the hall. I recognized one of them and held my ves in my hand to offer my respect to him. I had to say to the vuelen in front of me, “you are kind, vuelen, I recognize these magistrates.”

I knew one of them as Buronon. He and his associate stopped before the vuelen standing in front of me, not wanting to cause a confrontation. He said to me from where he stood, “you appear to be untouched by the assassin, vuelessa. We are grateful.” He turned to see Murgad and the ranger, Nelcanon crushing the skull of the attacker.

Buronon said to them, “we had no contact with this vuelo. He was of forfeit and was placed here only this brightness.”

Murgad separated the intelligence device from the skull and removed his spike. He looked at me with regret, “my vuelessa, this one may be of no use.”

I read his dismay that the data from the intelligence device was probably lost. I called to him, “Do not be concerned, Murgad. The memory particle of the device is small and is probably intact.”

Murgad and Nelcanon listened to what I said and checked with each other. I read that neither of them understood what I had described. Murgad nudged Nelcanon. They both thought: She is of the gods. She knows such things.

Buronon was thinking something similar and asked, “would the vuelessa be kind to accompany me inside the chambers?”

I looked to Murgad and Nelcanon as Murgad wiped the blood from his hands and came with me while Nelcanon took the intelligence device away. Buronon’s associate went to Nelcanon to assist with the dead vuelo.

I was surprised as several or the magistrates gathered in the chamber for my presence. I recognized Brintelen from the cart races and said loa to him. The vuelasel that was a member of the panel, Wevala, came to me and asked, “we have many questions if you would be kind to enhance out knowledge.” At once I knew that she was aware of what I had been saying to the vuelans of Centium about the God of Sola and she approved of it.

I read her sincerity and said to her, “la magistrate, I am a vuelessa. I must tell the truth, and the vuelans of Centium deserve the truth of their existence.”

Several of the magistrates were attentive to our discussion. They were concerned about what I was saying to the vuelans. I added to my explanation, “I am describing universal truths that I believe to be self evident in vuel.”

Wevala said to me, “we have been making judgments based on laws given to us by the Resjed gods. We are not concerned that you will change the laws of vuel because we believe that you have been brought into vuel by those same gods.” She paused as several of the other magistrates agreed with her.

I read that other magistrates expected Wevala to tell me something. The telepathic abilities that vuelessas train to achieve is meant for thought that was currently in Wevala’s mind. I focused on her.

She smiled, “several of us knew your parents well. We do not expect that we will see them again, but we are sure that we see them both in your behavior.”

Thought streams of memories about my parents flowed from several of the magistrates now. They nodded warmly to me as acknowledged them. They understood that I was reading their memories.

An older magistrate, whose name was Jarlon, spoke for them all, “vuelessa, we have been told of the truths that you bring and we too, have always thought of these truths to be self evident. You must realize that vuelans have always looked to the gods for their security. They have never thought of a creator God. We are concerned that your messages will cause confusion and disruption.”

These magistrates were the most educated of all vuelans in the social sciences. Their concerns were valid. I read from them that they wanted the truths I was bringing to be accepted into vuel. I nodded my understanding and said, “you all believe the truths of a creator God and the freedom of all vuelans. All of you believe that these truths are self evident.” I paused to let them realize this, and said, “vuelans will realize these truths are self evident in the same way that you were able to.”

The magistrates were anxious about what would happen when vuelans were told that their gods were not protecting them or watching over their every move. I smiled, “the light of Sola shines everywhere during the brightness and is reflected everywhere throughout the dim. The God of Sola is seen everywhere and has always been in more places than any red god.”

Another of the magistrates said, “if you, The Vuelessa of Centium, proclaim this, then vuelans may believe it.” He was unsure that my word alone would be enough to convince everyone.

His name was Tsildenen. I said to him, “lo Tsildenen, I am not the only vuelan that already knows this truth. Along with all of you, there are many others, some from the faraway lands, who are ready to spread this truth in vuel. I have met one already and I am reading this truth in thought from others.”

Tsildenen turned to confer with the other magistrates. They spoke with each other for a few moments and then they turned their attention back to me.

The magistrate, Jarlon spoke for them, “you are the Vuelessa of Centium. You are trusted more than the councils or the magistrates. Be kind to understand that the truth you bring will alter vuel.”

I turned to leave the chamber. Then I stopped and asked the magistrates, “that brightness, some sixes ago on the plaza, all of you knew that no red god was flying that transport?”

Buronon answered for them all, “we made that assumption. We also know one of the truths of vuel is that events tend to occur without full explanation, when a vuelessa wants them to.”

Gald was meeting with a count house on behalf of the Permian region that he represents. I sent a runner to the street of coins with a message asking him to meet me at our hacienda. During the ride to Casa Lago I felt Gald’s absence. My amor for him was primal within me. I had become intimate with him unlike I had with any Earth male I had ever known.

Oseio’s consciousness asserted itself in my mind: You are vuelan, Aeia. You may have grown up on Earth but your perceived culture and kindred are vuelan. Gald is of your spirit. He, also perceives that you are kindred with him.

I became aware of Murgad’s gaze. I must have seemed to be in a thought stream. When my eyes focused on him, he asked, “is my vuelessa regaining her serenity?”

I smiled at my disfigured friend. I nodded, “yes, my Murgad. Did you think that protecting a vuelessa was going to be so dangerous when you took the job?”

He only smiled slightly, “it has not been dangerous for me, my vuelessa.”

The attack at the plaza changed the perceived threat in Centium. Two Tesars followed us back to Casa Lago. Before the dim they were replaced with six Centium guards. The guards were well equipped with kuchirs and bows. They appeared to be dangerous with their weapons. Their thoughts were of possible dangers that may not be understood. Murgad and Tuhukt knew two of the guards by name and knew the families. The guards did not say so but I read from them that they had used their time in service to obtain this assignment. The assignment of guarding The Vuelessa of Centium carried prestige among the Centium guards.

I went to the pool to relax and receive thought streams from the vuelessas involved with controlling the criminal hordes threatening vuel.

Contained in the thought streams: Era had become close to Renzt, who is a teamster driving for the interests of Kregt and Fettik and Pagalund. Era’s description of the attack by the Pua clan was distressing. The new information from Loee brought an understanding that was valuable. Era sent new information which coincided with what Loee had provided. They both described an organized group of marauding hordes operating from Puerto Lavaka. These hordes were part of the vuel in Puerto Lavaka. There was direction from some kind of leadership in that coastal village. Several hordes operated in the region, attacking small villages that they could overwhelm. The description of one of these attacks came to me from the vuelessa Era. Era’s ability to send and receive thought streams had improved over the recent sixes. The vivid description of the carnage carried out in the attack that she survived was horrendous. She did not send this detail to me. I had read it in her thoughts without her permission.

I sent this thought to her: My Era, I ask your kindness. I read the details of your experience in the attack on Pital village that you did not wish to share with me. Your bravery is unequaled. I agree with you. These hordes must be removed from vuel. Kill them all.

I was learning that being the Vuelessa of Centium was not always about the kindness of Sola.

A thought stream came from vuelessa Ooya of the Cadiz: Pagalund is making a new spin weapon in his workshop. This is the weapon that Era is using. There are more of these weapons available.

I read from Ooya that she had been with Era in Pital village. I sent my thought to her that she must also be courageous beyond any reason.

A thought stream came from Hetha, vuelessa of the Great Bay: We are being told by mariners that a flotilla is being prepared in Puerto Lavaka. Hetha had used vuelan words that I was unfamiliar with. I was unsure of what the vuelan word for flotilla meant.

I answered her thought: My vuelessa Hetha, you are kind to inform me. I must beg further kindness. What does that mean?

Hetha returned my thought with laughter: I beg the kindness of The Vuelessa of Centium. I must remember that Centium is a great distance from the mar. A flotilla is a number of ships that can sail upon the mar. These ships are being prepared to sail together to attack a village.

I returned Hetha’s thought: I have friends that have come to the Great Bay area. They can be valuable to you. Have you met a cosada couple named Kregt and Eloe?

She sent me her reply: I will anticipate their acquaintance.

A thought stream from Ua came into my mind. Ua Exerva was monitoring all of the thought streams in concert with me. Her help was essential. I was able to read all of the thoughts but if I asked for detail as I had with Hetha, I missed detail from another thought stream. Ua Exerva sent: My Aeia, I am reading of an attack by a horde that is not far away. The vuelessa Yurava is traveling on the Camino Rio and speaking with vuelans concerning the area of Ganza.

This data made me want to scream out. This danger could be as close as one brightness away from Centium. I remained quiet, though unsettled, and thought: my vuelessa Yurava, be kind to tell me all you can of the attack in the Ganza area.

Yurava sent her thought stream to me: The Vuelessa of Centium must be aware of an attack on the rio village of Ganz Creek. The vuelans that live there have fled to Ganza.

Another complication occurred when my consciousness was filled by Gald reacting to the news of the attack. He was furious. He also was determining if there was a way to take me away from Centium. He considered trying to convince me to go with him to his family in the Permian. He was sure I would be safe there. He was on his way to Casa Lago. This situation could cause difficulty within our amor. I could not disagree with Gald’s concern in this matter. Perhaps he would be more agreeable when he is looking down at me while his penis feels the caress of my vagina.

I relaxed and resumed my concentration. Ua Exerva had been reading me closely. Her thought came to me: Yes, my vuelessa, exerting your will on vuelen during amorig will always be effective.

I could not believe she sent me that thought. I sent my thought to her: My Essence of Beauty That Enlivens, I did not think you would read that thought.

She did not answer. Then, Viya, from the Domesticate, entered the thought stream: We all read your aroused desire for your amoro, lo Gald.

Vuelessa Ooya sent her thought: Many of us envy the Vuelessa of Centium, not for your authority, but for her amoro.

Ua Exerva sent the thought: We are all aroused with you!

The thought stream filled with giggles and laughter. I tried to clear my thoughts, but only created further thoughts of my Gald. I realized that I needed to change this distraction into a positive theme. The laughter subsided and I sent my firm thought: Thoughts of amor are what we and all vuelans should be spending our energies on. That is why we are all in this thought stream. May we all return to the matter of the threat to vuel by the criminal hordes?

Immediately following my thought, Ua sent her though: I, Ua Exerva, will concentrate my efforts with the Vuelessa of Centium.

Hetha sent her thought: All of us, Vuelessa, will concentrate our efforts.

Then the thought: I confirm. Echoed throughout the stream.

I sent my thought to them all: You are all kind to assist. The data you have provided has told me what I must do here in Centium. I will engage with you again at this period in the second brightness from now.

Before I left the thought stream, Hetha sent her thought to me: We all remain envious of you!

This time, I laughed with them.

E’ella had brought vinho and salted breads to the pool for me. She did not want to disturb my thoughts. Now I looked up at her, waiting for her to ask the question I was reading from her. Her question could not be delayed. She looked at me anxiously and said, “my vuelessa, you have made me believe that the red gods are only vuelan like beings and that there is a creator God that is the god of Vul and Sola and all of the stars. I must also believe that you were sent to Vul to tell us about this God of Sola that rules and provides all.”

It was not a question at all. E’ella was telling me something she believed. The words I was about to use were going to be important. I thought to myself: No pressure here!

Oseio came from the latent region of my memory into my current consciousness: Your vuela, E’ella is correct about you, but there are many that will help bring the truth of the creator God.

Oseio’s assistance was timely. “My E’ella, remember that I am a vuelessa. My only roll is to encourage others. There are many vuelans that know far more than I do about the God of Sola. Those vuelans will bring the truth of the one God, the God of Sola, into vuel.”

E’ella had an odd expression. She asked, “there is more to know?”

Vuelans had believed that the Resjed beings were gods. The Resjed never allowed worship of themselves or anything else that I had been aware of. The common reference to Sola among vuelans was allowed. Perhaps it was ignored. I read from E’ella that she had no knowledge of God whatsoever. I said quietly to her, “this dim, I will tell all I know of the God of Sola to anyone that wishes to listen.”

E’ella smiled and turned to go back to the casa. She looked back to say, “I have a duck ready in the event that the vuelessa’s red friend visits this dim.”

I laughed, “you are wise to do so! We will always want to please lo Zhodag.”

Gald came into my mind again. This time, it was because Dekt has met him and is coming with him to the hacienda. At the same time I was glad, I wondered if something else has happened.

Soon, I read that Gald and Dekt were coming up the lago road. They were arriving earlier than I expected because Gald had hired a cart with a dog team. My body moved through the casa toward our meeting with a purpose that I did not refuse. Leaving the casa portal I saw the cart carrying my Gald and Dekt turn into the drive of the hacienda. Our eyes met. I read Dekt say that he would take care of the cart. Gald jumped to the grass as I ran toward him. I held the front hem of my ves, lifting it as I jumped into his grasp. We pressed each other’s lips firmly while my arms held his neck and my legs circled his waist. He put me on the grass and I accepted his penetration. My legs released from his waist to allow his pelvis to bump into mine. Our collisions carried us into an oblivion that lasted part of a period before we forced each other’s climax.

We breathed deeply with each other on the grass. Gald spoke into my ear, “how many of those in the hacienda did we entertain?”

My thoughts were only of Gald. What would he say to me? Will he tolerate these circumstances? Will he want to take me to his home region for my safety? Is there any safety? He cannot protect me from everything. Our amor would have to be stronger than this conflict.

I rolled my head toward him, “only Kerkd, up in the look out, and he has a bow at the ready.” I made myself sit up. “They are waiting for us to go in before anyone comes this way.”

Gald adjusted his pantos and gained his feet. He pulled me up with him and said, “it is good to be the amoro of the Vuelessa of Centium. You know what is in my mind. My concern is that Murgad may not always be as lucky.”

I hugged his arm as we walked toward the casa. “I believe that luck has had nothing to do with his success at defending me.”

Gald considered what I said for a moment. He said, “that is possible. We are discussing Murgad. Dekt and I, however, see a problem. The problem is that he is only one vuelo. He could be outnumbered. Further, the attack this brightness was unforeseen. We wonder if there is another enemy besides those that the Resjed destroyed. Dekt and I discussed these possibilities on our way here.”

Vuel reminded me again, how different it was from life on Earth. We walked into the casa with no one reacting to what we had done together on the front lawn of the hacienda. Gald and I went to our recama where we found fresh chalices of vinho, moist cloths and a loe stem that V’aya had placed on the table. We picked up our chalices for salud to each other. I looked into Gald’s eyes. We both knew what he was thinking. I flipped the latch on my ves to drop it to the floor and said to him, “you cannot protect me.”

He assessed me. He assessed me slowly, carefully. When his eyes reached mine he gave me a smirk. “You believe that vuel protects you.”

I put my arms around his neck. I told him, “it is better that you are the amoro of the Vuelessa of Centium rather than the protector of the Vuelessa of Centium. Yes. Vuel is the only protection I have, or need.” I could read that he wanted to believe me.

“Did Dekt mention during the trip from Centium that a criminal gang has taken over Ganz Creek?”

Gald stepped back. He knew how close Ganz Creek village was to Centium. He said, “no.”

“My information may be more accurate than his.”

The dim meal was served on the patio. Dekt discussed everything he knew with me. The Centium guards rotated to the patio to eat and be apprised on the situation with the criminal gangs and hordes that menaced the villages of Vul. All were alarmed to hear of the take over of the village of Ganz Creek. The discussions turned to creating a plan to overtake the criminal horde that was occupying Ganz Creek. This caused me to remember something from sixes ago when Kregt and Eloe first used the floating block to come to Casa Lago. They had seen a large encampment between Ganza and Centium far off the Camino Rio.

I decided I must speak up. “Vuelen, are you aware of a large encampment that is some distance off the Camino Rio between here and Ganza?”

Dekt checked with one of the Centium guards, Plantanik, and said, “that area is low and the Yuko floods it often. No one lives there permanently. There are vuelans that go there to live because they are fleeing something or someone. It is a lawless area.”

Plantanik spoke up, “Vuelessa, the guard has raided that area in the past. Is your information that the gang, or horde that was encamped in the lowland has invaded Ganz Creek?”

“I am blending information that is available. It is unlikely that vagabonds from the lowland would be aggressive enough to invade and occupy a village.” While I spoke I read from Plantanik that this was a serious development and it would have to be dealt with immediately. Then I read that the guard was unable to do this. They did not have the numbers of troops to deploy. Plantanik and Dekt discussed numbers of vuelen available in their forces.

At that moment, another vuelo of the guard came to the table to have comida. Plantanik said to his fellow guard vuelo, “Trellend, the vuelen in the rio guard, how many are there in total?”

Trellend gave Plantanik a pained expression, “the total that are capable? Five or six.”

I was reading the question from Dekt already. I knew what he was about to ask and was encouraged when he did not hesitate. He knew what must happen and how to obtain it. He looked straight at me and said, “my sister, the Vuelessa of Centium must recruit an armed force to defend vuel.”

Plantanik saluted before he left the patio. His salute confirmed what Ua Exerva had said to Dekt some brightnesses ago when he addressed my brother as commander.

The early brightness of the sixth found me wide awake with anticipation. My expectancy was multiplied by the hopefulness of the vuelans of Centium. The essence of beauty that enlivens sent me her thought stream gathered from the streets: The Vuelessa of Centium is going to tell us of the gods. The Vuelessa of Centium is going to proclaim us to be like the gods! The Vuelessa of Centium is going to tell us of the God of Sola!

All of these things were partially true. That was the challenge I faced. My speech to the vuelans would have to give them hope and also foster responsibility for the advancement of vuel. I listened to the vuelessas who were sending me their encouragement along with data about the status of the criminal hordes. Sola began to illuminate the sky. My Gald was sleeping while I stood, gazing out of the window. The first rays of Sola touched my face. I thought to myself: Yes, God of Sola, you will be proclaimed this brightness forevermore.

The Essence of Beauty That Enlivens sent me her thought: I knew you would be awake. Are you reading what is coming your way?

No. What is it?

Her thought returned: Prepare. They will be at Casa Lago my mid early brightness to escort you.

Her message was the motivation needed. In a period I had awakened the hacienda. E’ella was preparing desayun. V’aya was helping me with my hair. Yes, vuelas on Vul use their hair the same way Earth women do. I was applying the colored oils that had made me well know in Centium. I read more and more of the thoughts of the vuelans that the Essence of Beauty That Enlivens had sent thought of earlier. They were coming close to the hacienda. Reading what Gald was seeing from the lookout was elevating my excitement. His thought was: this is not a small group. It is many small groups and the groups continue to appear.

Soon Gald came to our recama to say, “you may want to leave earlier than planned. The crowd may become so thick that we cannot traverse the lago road.”

The usual half a period trip to the Camino Rio and on to the plaza took almost two periods. We began at Casa Lago by handing out pieces of sweetened bread to over a hundred vuelans that were in the road to greet me. These vuelans were already accepting the new God. They called out as I passed, “vuelessa! The God of Sola is bright for you!”

I called back to them, “The God of Sola is bright for all vuelans!” These calls continued all the way to the Camino Rio. There, Centium guards tried to hold the crowds out of the roadway. There were other carts and wagons on the Camino Rio that were moving slowly due to the crowd. I stopped calling out in order to save my voice. Essence of Beauty That Enlivens sent the thought to me: You are wise to stop calling back to the crowd. You will need your voice on the plaza.

Her thought told me what awaited me. We reached the view of the plaza on the Camino Rio and vuelans already filled the plaza. More Centium guards met our wagon to help us move down the lane. I could see a small clearing on the far side of the plaza that lifted above the main elevation. The guards told us to stay on the wagon and shouted to the vuelans on the crowd, “make way for The Vuelessa of Centium! Make way for the Vuelessa of Centium!”

At one point a family was pushed aside and tripped on the vuelans behind them, sending ten or fifteen in the crowd to the plaza tiles. I yelled, “halt!” I stepped out of the wagon as Murgad jumped in front of me to stand in between the crowd and me.

The guard that had pushed too hard stepped back. He had been unable to move the crowd sufficiently with his voice. I offered my hands to the vuelas and the kids that were regaining their feet and said, “we ask for your kindness! You should not have been pushed to the tiles!”

All the vuelans said to me was, “you are kind vuelessa! It is we who tripped! You who are kind!”

I knelt in front of them and then returned to the wagon. We gained the clearing. Four Tesar Rangers stood in the clearing inside twenty or more Centium guards. One Tesar, with a white crest on his helmet stood in the middle of the clearing, next to a boo platform. When I entered the perimeter of the circle, Dekt, in his white crested helmet, held his hand toward me.

I was thrilled that he was here. I walked up to him quickly and with purpose. I knelt in front of him. I did not unlatch my ves. I read from the thoughts of the crowd that no one expected me to do so. I placed my foot in front and stood up slowly. I lifted my face to his, saying, “I am grateful to Sola that you are here with me!”

Dekt nodded slowly and offered his hand. He guided me onto the platform and turned to the crowd. He raised both arms and called out to the crowd in full voice, “the Rangers of the Tesar acknowledge the Vuelessa of Centium! The Vuelessa of Centium will speak to all Centium!”

I heard the echoes of the relay callers in the crowd. The noise on the plaza diminished. I read the thoughts of the crowd as their attention turned to me. I faced all directions and then lowered myself to the platform. This time I unlatched my ves. The Ah’s from the nearby crowd that could already see me were excited. Did they think that I did not yet serve them? I rose and the the Ah’s began from the entire plaza. My hands stroked my thighs and my hips and then under my breasts. I spread my arms to the vuelans on the plaza. The Vuelessa of Centium presented herself to all of Centium!

I held my arms out to them. I thought to myself: These vuelans are expecting to hear the meaning of vuel from me. How am I supposed to fulfill that level of expectation?

Essence of Beauty That Enlivens overwhelmed my thoughts: That is exactly what the message is that you are bringing them! Vuel is eternal! They are eternal!

I returned her thought: My Ua. You are my sustenance. Why do you lift me up every time? I owe you so much more than I can repay.

Essence of Beauty That Enlivens replied with her thought: We were best friends on Earth. We remain best friends, except that now I am the best friend of the Vuelessa of Centium! Tell the vuelans the truth of their existence. Tell them the truth of the creator God. Tell them they are free vuelans. Then tell them the wonderful and the tragic truth of what it means to be free.

She was correct. Absolutely. I stared intently into the crowd and smiled. In a few moments their Ah’s became quiet. Amazingly quiet. I called out, “Vuel is beautiful and the Vuelans of Centium are beautiful!” I stepped backwards as the noise level blew past my ears.

The noise and Ah’s diminished into individual call’s, “the Vuelessa of Centium is beautiful!” The vuelessa Aeia is beautiful!” “Centium amors the vuelessa Aeia!”

I found the direction from which the last call came from and yelled with all my voice, “the vuelessa Aeia, the Vuelessa of Centium is in amor with all of the vuelans of Centium!”

The roar from the multitude was deafening now. I, once again, went to the floor of the platform I stood on. I raised myself up to them again. I threw my head up and my arms out. The Ah’s became deafening all over again. I used short sentences and simple words so that every vuelan could hear and understand what I was saying, “We all have been created by the same God! Vuelans and all those from the faraway lands have all been created by the one God. The one God that also created Sola and all of the stars in the sky.”

Now they were paying close attention, “The creator God also created the red gods that watch over vuel and all vuelans. There is one God of Vul, of Sola, and all the stars in the skies.”

I paused. Then I continued, “the creator God created all vuelans with free will! The creator God has given every vuelan freedom! This freedom can be used to make vuel the pride of Sola. This freedom can also be used to make Sola want to leave Vul in darkness! We vuelans must decide each brightness if we want Sola to shine on us or if we want to live in darkness!”

I gave the assemblage a moment to mull this idea. I shouted my answer, “I want Sola to shine brightly on vuel every single brightness!” Ah’s roared through the crowd. I waited. “The God of Sola rewards vuelans that want Sola to shine on them. The God of Sola, the one God grants all Vuelans that use their freedom to bring brightness to Vul, they will receive vuel that is eternal!”

Now I was reading questions in the thoughts of those on the plaza. I continued, “we are vuelans. We will all die in some future brightness. Serve the one God, the God of Sola and the vuel each of us have will continue beyond the vuel we know here on Vul. The vuel each of us have will be everlasting!” I read astonishment in the thoughts of the crowd as I said this.

I nodded. “The words I say are true. The God of Sola has told me these things and these things are true. The creator God wants all vuelans to have everlasting vuel!”

I became aware that Dekt, who stood at guard several steps in front of my platform had turned. He stared at me in wonder. I thought: Had he never been told this before?

I continued, “all vuelans are free to choose the vuel of the God of Sola or to go the way of darkness. You are free to choose!”

I read their questions. All were variations of one question: What does Aeia, the Vuelessa of Centium, want us to do? I was ecstatic. I screamed, “I CHOOSE VUEL !” I read their agreement as I heard their Ah’s. I spread my arms and looked up at Sola. The multitude followed my lead, lifting their arms to Sola at the same time. I held my stance for moments, monitoring the thoughts of the vuelans. Soon, the questions came that I was waiting for: Where are the red gods? What happened to the red gods? Are the red gods protecting us?

I Called out, “the Resjed red gods are in the skies. The Resjed will always be in the skies to protect vuel in the sky. The God of Sola created the Resjed Vuelans and Resjed are closely related. The Resjed will become vuelan in a hundred annaros. The Resjed are highly advanced beings. The Resjed will give vuelans the knowledge to become advanced like they are.”

I read anxious thoughts from the vuelans about what I was saying. No Ah’s went up for my announcement about the Resjed. This was unexpected information. Maybe it was too much information. I waited and read the thoughts and thought to myself: In vuel there is no technology. How could vuelans relate to the advanced beings that fly through the skies?

I called out, “soon, vuelans will fly through the skies of Vul the same way the Resjed fly through the sky!” I waited. They understood flying. They liked this idea. To vuelans, flight was all of technology gathered up into one concept. The God of Sola was easily acceptable to vuelans. They were aware that the red gods flew in the skies. Vuelans were struggling with these ideas. I read their anxieties: Why now? Why are we being told of the God of Sola and free will and the Resjed beings and flying in the sky. What does all of this mean?

Civilizations advance on the contributions of only a few geniuses. History taught me that nations are created by a determined minority. I called to the vuelans, “the God of Sola gives us everlasting vuel. All we have to do is ask the God of Sola for everlasting vuel .” I paused. Hundreds of thoughts came into my consciousness: I ask you, god of Sola, for everlasting vuel. God of Sola, give me everlasting vuel.

I called out again, “the Resjed from the sky offer us their knowledge so that we can become like they are. Who among us will accept their knowledge?” I waited again. This time there were young voices that called back to me, “I will!” “I want their knowledge!” “I want to fly through the skies!” “I will accept their knowledge, vuelessa!”

Now I called out, “there is one task that we, as vuelans, must do for ourselves.” I read that many were listening intently. They knew there would be a price. They knew that these freedoms would only come with some effort. I called, “vuel must be defended. Vul and Centium must be made safe for vuel, and Centium must lead the way.” I paused. They agreed with this concept. The safety of the family unit was universal in human and vuelan existence. I reached my arms out and brought them back in, clutching my chest under my breasts. I screamed, “who will help me defend vuel?”

I held my breath. I read the thoughts. A vuelo came forward! I read his name and called it, “Grotilon! Lo Grotilon defends vuel!” Another vuelo pushed through the crowd. I read his name and called out, “lo Pukand also defends vuel!” Many voices called out now, “I will defend vuel!” “I defend vuel for Centium, vuelessa!” “I’ll defend vuel!” “I too, vuelessa, I will defend vuel!”

Dekt had turned to me again. His eyes were wide now. I read his thought: I did not realize that you could do this. He knew I had been designated the Vuelessa of Centium. He did not know that I, in fact, was The Vuelessa of Centium. Vuelen gathered up in front of him. Vuel would be defended. I watched the crowd of vuelen grow in front of the platform I stood on. Plantanik, of the Centium guard, began taking names and telling the vuelen what to do and where to meet. Dekt gave information on what skills were needed and what the commitment would mean.

Soon, the crowd of vuelen was large and still growing. I looked at them, reading their names. Many of them gazed at me. I appreciated their assessment. Plantanik and Dekt finished the simple recruiting instructions and looked to me. I went to the floor of my platform. Holding my face to the floor, I waited until I read that all of the vuelen were attentive. I lifted and planted my foot with all the strength and determination a vuela can bring to bear. I lifted as sinuously as my training had ever allowed. My hands stroked over my thighs and paused at my tummy. Yes, they read what I was saying with my hands pointing to my vulva. Then I lifted my hands up to my breasts as I lifted my face to them. I spread my arms, bared my teeth and called in the most forceful tones I could utter, “I will serve all of you!

Lo Pukand was mesmerized. He broke his trance and pushed his fist into the air. He yelled, “vulzhou! Vuel!”

The term, vulzhou, means vuel is great. Vulzhou vuel meant: the greatness of vuel.

Another vuelo called, “vulzhou vuel!”

I held both my hands up and called, “vulzhou vuel!” The vuelen all chanted, “vulzhou vuel! vulzhou vuel! vulzhou vuel!

Chanting began in the distance. The Essence of Beauty that Enlivens did not warn me. The sound was low and distant in the multitude on the plaza, beyond the group of vuelen volunteers.

“Aeia Aeia Aeia Aeia Aeia Aeia”

The Essence of Beauty that Enlivens sent her thought to me now: You have done it my vuelessa, my friend. You have launched a civilization on Vul. Vuel will now modernize and advance.

The chant continued, “Aeia Aeia Aeia Aeia”

I returned my friend’s thought: I have done nothing. I have only told them what is possible.

Aeia Aeia Aeia Aeia Aeia”

Era and Renzt .2

We track the horde

This story is told by Era

Renzt called to me, “we need to move.” I read his full meaning: We don’t want to be in the area when another part of the horde finds this. He had checked the area quickly for horde members that may have crawled away to hide. He also took his knife and cut the belt from the horde leader to bring it with us. His concern was valid. I read that one or two of the horde members had run from the scene and were nowhere in sight.

Gratoan slid into the wagon bed and I climbed up on the bench with Renzt. He called to the zebry and we rolled away. I asked Gratoan, “are you alright?”

Gratoan was young. He had never killed a vuelan before. The two horde vuelen that he killed in our surprise attack did not satisfy his need for revenge. Yet, his mind was processing his actions. He looked up at me and nodded. Then he stared back at the scene we were leaving. I read from his thoughts that he was satisfied, until he could find some more horde vuelen to kill.

We were continuing on the road we had been on when, up ahead, a clearing opened beyond the trees. I grabbed Renzt’s arm and said, “stop the wagon! Quietly”

He pulled the zebry to a slow trot and then halted them. He was able to do this without calling out to the team. Staring ahead, he asked in thought: What do you see? Are you reading something?

In a moment the wind brought a smell that we both recognized. Renzt said, “that smells like a chemical spill of some kind.”

I said, “yes. Some kind of chemical.” Gratoan had never experienced this kind of smell before. His face contorted with revulsion. I motioned to him and said, “put your arm over your mouth and nose. It will be alright.”

Renzt shook the reins and the zebry trotted forward. We rolled closer to the edge of the clearing. The road continued into the clearing but there were tracks that led to the venan. These tracks seemed to follow the perimeter of the clearing. The edge of the clearing was visible to us and we could easily see that the tracks along the perimeter. I sent thought to Aeia: We have encountered an area in which there is a chemical smell in a large clearing where the trees could have been destroyed by a chemical spill. Is there knowledge of this occurrence?

Momentarily, I received a thought stream from Ua Exerva: The Resjed have given us the following information. The area is toxic due to chemicals being exposed to the open air from a crash landing of a spacecraft. Avoid the clearing, the toxicity can be fatal.

Renzt could tell I had received data. He sent his thought: What is it? Is it toxic? How big is it?

I said to him and to Gratoan, “this clearing is due to a release of toxic chemicals from the crash of a spacecraft.” Gratoan understood little of my explanation. “Gratoan, you have seen the flashes in the clear sky that are followed by thunder.”

Gratoan answered, “yes, vuelessa, the gods show their anger in that way.”

I nodded, “yes, that is partly true. The gods defend Vul from other beings that want to come here. If the intruders do not leave when the red gods warn them to leave, then the intruders are destroyed. That destruction is what we see and hear in the skies. This area is where some of those spacecraft fell to Vul and crashed. The crash has released air and fluids that are poisonous.”

Gratoan nodded as if he understood perfectly. I was grateful for his reaction. I knew no further details of the occurrences in the near space or what the red gods do.

During my explanation, Renzt was thinking: I have seen one of these flashes. Do you know how often they occur? Do you know how many other beings want to come to Vul? He spoke the question, “Is this something we need to be concerned with?”

I glanced at both of them. “I have no further knowledge. I learned this at the Domesticate at Pleasance What I’ve told you may only be what I was supposed to know. ”

Renzt said, “we both know there are red gods. We also know there was a recent conflict involving another group of advanced beings, so your explanation is probably as good as any.”

Renzt stood up and surveyed the area. “There was no other road into that area. Do you think the horde came this way? Through that clearing?”

I told him, “hordes usually do not use roads. They travel in straight lines through fields and forest. Earlier, I read that two of the horde vuelen ran away when they saw how efficient our weapons were.” At that moment, as I said this, I read pain and horror. I was reading the thoughts from the horde vuelen that I had brought to my mind.

Renzt sent his thought: Are you reading something again?

I did not respond to his question so that Gratoan would not think we were conversing without him. “I believe the two horde vuelen that ran, took this road and have followed it into the clearing.”

Renzt took the wagon around the clearing, following the tracks that he could see. We did not smell the odors that we had smelled before. The horizon came into view where the clearing ended. Renzt told us, “that break in the trees looks like the place where the road leaves the clearing.”

I stared into the clearing, thinking to myself: Those two vuelen must be over there somewhere. We drove toward the road. Within a few hundred lengths of meeting the road when I saw the bodies. The two horde vuelen made it to within a hundred lengths of escaping the toxins. In the sky above them no bwitrey circled the bodies. I realized that I had not heard birds chirping at all since we came near this place.

My attention was taken when Renzt said, “what are we running into up here?” The question in his mind was: Are you reading anything from anyone up ahead? Is anyone alive?

“Nothing. Nothing is alive.” We came upon a horrible scene. Several creatures had almost made it out of the dead zone. All of them were dead and rotting on the ground, contorted from choking, it appeared.

Renzt did not slow down, but called the zebry to speed up as we returned to the road. He looked back again. “That large thing back there was a wildwolf. It thought it had found an easy kill.”

We drove the zebry toward the horizon. Renzt asked, “how far away do you think we should go so that we will not be affected?”

I considered this for a moment and said, “we must drive until we hear birds singing again.”

Several horizons and two brightnesses away from the clearing we were able to reach a village along the road from Puerto Lavaka that led toward the valley behind the coastal mountains. This village was within the influence of Puerto Lavaka and thus was left alone by the raiding hordes. Melons appeared in the fields for a horizon before we reached the village called Sandia. The village was named for the abundance of melons, called sandias, in the area.

We were able to purchase feed for the zebry and a secure place to keep the wagon. Renzt told the vuelo at the livery stable that we hauled farming tools. He pretended to believe us, but asked, “those are new weapons. I have not seen them before. Are they seven winding?”

Seven winding was the usual weapon that would fire seven shots, three that were dangerous and four more that would scare someone at close range. Renzt answered the livery vuelo, “yes.” He said no more than this, while showing the vuelo a blank expression.

Thought from the livery vuelo told me that the answer was satisfactory, he expected to hear a yes and he heard a yes. The word that would circulate in Sandia would be that three armed vuelans were traveling the Lavaka road and that those three armed vuelans did not offer details about themselves. Renzt paid for the keeping of the zebry and the wagon with coin crystals that, in a brightness not long ago, had belonged to a horde leader. When he paid the vuelo he told him, “I am paying for your honest service. I will pay again in the next brightness. It will be up to you whether you are paid by coin or by weapon.” The vuelo understood the phrase clearly.

Sandia was a small village and not large enough to have a house of diversion, yet it did. Renzt explained this for Gratoan and me. “This village would not exist to serve the amount of commerce surrounding it. The sandias by themselves would not support a village. This is a brightness away from Puerto Lavaka and likely more than a brightness away from the next village. Ganza village exists only because it is a brightnesses distance from both Refurio and Centium.”

We went to the Sandia House and took one of the two family rooms in the house. The cleansing water and loe stems felt luxurious after being in the wilderness for a few brightnesses. The three of us shared some of the vinho in the room and looked out of the window. Our third level room looked toward late Sola. There was a stream in the distance flowing through the fields of sandias and small stands of Boo trees. Storm clouds softened the light for our view.

I said to Renzt and Gratoan, “Sola through the clouds this late brightness is beautiful.” They nodded. Purposely, I said to Gratoan, “there will always be beauty in Sola.” Gratoan’s thoughts were of his family. He saw no particular beauty in anything. His unspoken thought about what I had said was: If you say so, vuelessa. I caught Renzt’s eye. He sent his thought to me: The vuelo is seeing no beauty at all.

When Sola became twilight we went down to the street room of the Sandia House. This is the large area where meals were served. There were a few vuelos dining at the tables attended to by serving vuelas. We took an open table as a serving vuela came to us to ask, will you be using a serving vuela this dim?”

I read her full meaning. I also read that Renzt understood completely. He said to the vuela, “a young serving vuela would be appreciated.” He nodded toward Gratoan. The vuela glanced at Gratoan and nodded to Renzt.

The vuela said, “I will bring some vuelas who will serve vinho and bread in a moment.”

I noticed that Gratoan was assessing more than one of the serving vuelas in the room. Renzt’s thought came to me: The vuelo should experience some beauty that he will find to be more meaningful than the setting Sola.

I smiled my agreement with this idea.

The street room in the Sandia House was not as large as the usual dining and entertaining room. This was more of a road house, with some alcoves above the kitchen area in the back of the room. The vuela that met us at our table returned, followed by three serving vuelas. They brought vinho, chalices and breads for the table. One of the vuelas was young and new to her tasks. Another of the serving vuelas placed the chalices on the table, saying, “I am Sani and I will serve you.”

The second vuela opened the vinho and poured it for me and then for Renzt, saying, “I am Elish and I will serve you this dim.” These experienced serving vuelas wore the same strips of cloth which fell over their breasts and again from their waists. When the vuelas moved, the individual strips would part to reveal everything to the vuelo’s attention.

Finally, the young vuela, who was wearing only a few strips of cloth to begin with, placed a tray of breads on the table and with some apprehension, said, “I will serve you.” She realized that she did not say all of the phrase and quickly added, “I am Ulva and I will serve you this dim.” the vuela gave a worried look to the serving vuela in charge.

Renzt and I noticed that Gratoan could not take his eyes from Ulva’s breasts. Renzt said to him, “Gratoan, why don’t you ask Ulva to serve us this dim?”

Gratoan was able to shake his attentions from the vuela for a moment to say, “yes. That would be. Yes.”

Renzt said to the lead vuela, “you will be kind to have Ulva serve us this dim.”

I smiled. Gratoan’s thoughts were clear that he was going to appreciate the young vuela’s charms as she served. I admitted to myself that the vuela’s breasts were pretty. “Ulva has little or no experience at serving, Gratoan, show her your kindness and she will serve you with all of her passion.” When I finished, I raised my eyebrows for him, signaling further meaning in my words.

Gratoan answered, “yes, my vuelessa.” I smiled, he had used the my vuelessa form of addressing me. There was a spark of happiness in him that I had not read before.

Two musicians began playing on a small platform in the back of the room. Renzt said, “Sandia is full of surprises, isn’t it?”

We were going to meet someone here. A vuelo intended to come to our table. The vuelo had some interest in our weapons. He did not approach us at this time, though. I became unsure if the vuelo was going to come to our table at all. Without looking up, I said, “there is a vuelo here that is interested in our weapons. He may come to our table to ask us about them.”

Renzt took a long sip of his vinho and said, “every vuelo in Sandia is interested in our weapons. We will have to be wary of anyone who asks us about them or where we plan to go.”

We ordered our food. There was one choice at the Sandia House: Meat and mixed vegetables. The only variation offered was how well the meat was cooked. We were listening to the musicians before our food was brought to the table when I read the intent of the vuelo to come and ask about our weapons. Softly, I said to Renzt, “he is coming over to talk to us.”

The vuelo came to our table, “lo vuelen, la vuela, my name is Purtak, I would ask about your weapons?” Renzt answered him, “lo Purtak, you are kind to ask. We carry these to protect our shipments of farm tools, which we have already delivered. These are standard Dim Eight spin weapons and the owners do not allow these weapons to leave our hands.”

Lo Purtak seemed to accept Renzt’s explanation. He then asked, “are you seeking a cargo?”

Renzt understood the real question the vuelo was asking. He answered, “we are prohibited from hiring out. We are simply taking another route back to our shipping point.” He then added, “we did not want to take the roads back through the Akavan, for several reasons.”

Lo Purtak revealed his purpose without my having to read it from his mind when he said, “you are fellow teamsters. I was going to suggest that there are cargoes in Puerto Lavaka.”

Renzt showed interest, “is that so?”

Purtak offered detail, “yes. The cargoes are varied and they are always interested in teamsters who carry their own protection.”

I could read from Purtak that the cargoes he described had all been stolen from somewhere.

Renzt appeared to be disappointed with Purtak’s information, “it will be a tragedy that we cannot take advantage of such a lucrative opportunity.”

Purtak returned to his table and our food was brought by Ulva. She spread the leaves onto the table in front of us and spooned the vegetables and chunks of meat out for our servings. Ulva asked each of us how much of what item we wanted spooned onto our leaves. Her attentions were not lost on Gratoan. When she leaned down to dish the food onto our leaves, her breasts would drop between the few strips of cloth that comprised her ves. A vuela that frees her beasts is welcomed in vuel. The views of Ulva’s breasts were certainly welcomed by Gratoan.

Ulva, for her part, noticed Gratoan’s attention and held her posture a moment longer for him to enjoy her pendant charms. This interaction was also noticed by Renzt, who sent his thought: Are you seeing this?

I nodded slightly to let him know that I was completely aware of the interactions.

Ulva took the tray and walked away from our table. Her hips swung slightly more than would be usual. She knew what she was doing. Gratoan watched her every move while she walked away.

Renzt sent the thought: Vuel is powerful, he now sees the beauty of vuel.

We ate heartily. This was the first full meal Renzt and I had eaten in several brightnesses and probably the first substantial meal that Gratoan had eaten in many sixes. The food was rich and the vinho was a deep flavor unique to this region. Gratoan had never tasted vinho before and marveled at the experience. The musicians played and occasionally a serving vuela would twirl to the melodies as she moved between the tables. More than a couple of the vuelas were accompanied to an alcove by the patrons.

I suggested to Gratoan, “my Gratoan, la vuela Ulva will want you to go with her to an alcove. When you do, be gentle with her, she has probably not experienced other vuelos.”

Gratoan stared at me. Renzt realized that he was not following me and said to him, “Gratoan, Ulva may want you to go to an alcove with her so that she may show kindness to you.” Now he stared at both of us with wide eyes for a moment before resuming his comida.

We finished eating while Ulva poured more of the vinho for us and rolled up the leaves that our comida was served on. Again, Gratoan paid close attention as Ulva leaned over the table. I easily read she was enjoying his attentions. Before she left the table, she leaned down to Gratoan and said, “will lo vuelo desire anything else from Ulva this dim?”

Gratoan was unable to form a sentence.

Ulva smiled and leaned closer to him, whispering, “I will be back in a moment.”

Gratoan turned again to watch her walk away. This time, she looked back at him and smiled.

I looked at Renzt. He sent his thought: You and I are going to need an alcove if I see her do that again. My own senses of arousal were agreeing with him.

Gratoan took a sip of his vinho and said to me, “I will be gentle with her, my vuelessa.”

I said to him, “when she comes, stand up and offer your hand to her.”

He nodded his understanding. I began discussing with Renzt the direction we might want to go next brightness when I saw in his eyes that Ulva was coming for Gratoan. When I looked, Gratoan also turned to see her. He stood up from the table to offer his hand to her.

Ulva came to him and knelt in front of him, taking his hand in both of hers and holding her cheek to it, then bessing his hand and looking up at him. Renzt sent me his thought: I am doing all I can to not jump over the table and carry her off! I looked to him, thinking to myself: I cannot blame you!

We were completely unnoticed by Gratoan and Ulva. They walked off toward the alcoves. When they had cleared all but one of the tables, Ulva leaned close to Gratoan and bessed him. They did not make it to an alcove. Ulva’s bess was too much for Gratoan. He embraced her. She encircled him with her legs as he put her back on the table they were passing. Ulva’s ves was of no consequence and Gratoan’s pantos were unfastened for their amorig to begin.

Ah’s were called out from around the street room. Some patrons stood and called Ah! The musicians began playing a moving, repeating melody as the two young vuelans amoriged with each other in their own complete oblivion.

I looked at Renzt and, over the Ah’s and the music, “yes. Vuel is powerful.”

The next brightness we ate desayun before reining the zebry to the wagon. The zebry looked well fed and rested. I mentioned this to Renzt. He looked past me, saying, “we have affairs that are unfinished.”

In the middle of the street, Ulva and Gratoan bessed each other. We both thought: For the amor of vuel! We watched for a moment. I began to read something and reached to Renzt. I leaned toward him and said, “get ready for this.”

He sent his thought: You don’t have to be a mind reader to see what is about to happen. He said, “may Sola help us.”

Gratoan put his arm around Ulva’s shoulders and walked proudly toward us. When he reached us he announced, “Ulva wants to join us.”

I looked to Renzt. He is the teamster. It is his wagon. He has taken on my quest with me, but he will have to decide this issue. He glanced at me and asked Gratoan, “why?”

Few questions will expose a bad idea more easily than asking why. I began to read something familiar from the vuela. For part of a moment I thought I was reading my own memory. Ulva checked with Gratoan and stepped toward Renzt to say to his face, “I have been here in Sandia for the two annaros since my family was killed by an attacking horde. I have called to Sola to show me a way to destroy that horde that killed my family. When the three of you came into the house carrying weapons I gave my gratitude to Sola for answering me. She looked at Gratoan the same way I had looked at Renzt that dim in the house room where Ooya and I were telling him our story. Then the vuela said to me, “Gratoan told me that you want to kill them all vuelessa, and I want to help you.”

Renzt sent his thought: We have to bring her with us now. Then he said to me, “do you have that string ves somewhere? She is not going to look like a settler vuela wearing that, um, that.”

We rolled away from Sandia on the road that went to the nor. This would take us toward the high plains that meet the coastal mountains. This is the route that everyone in Sandia expected us to take.

Renzt was looking for the bypass. All villages have bypass trails. Some bypass trails are busy roads. Some bypass trails are only used by those who do not want to go through the village that is on the road. Avoiding the village on the road can be for a number of reasons. Most of these reasons are nefarious. We had decided the previous dim that we would go to Puerto Lavaka. That is where the horde leader, El Fuego, operated his imperium. I saw the trail appear at the same time Renzt did.

Renzt looked behind us to assure himself that no one was following. He called to the zebry and shook the reins. We sped up and turned into the trail. Renzt drove the zebry at a fast pace until we were out of sight from the main road. We slowed and I turned to Gratoan and Ulva. They were sitting in the wagon bed, holding onto each other.

I climbed into the wagon bed with them and said, “we are going to Puerto Lavaka.” I could read what Ulva’s thoughts were and I asked her, “you may change your mind about joining us if you wish.” I looked at her and Gratoan together to ask, “both of you deserve to experience vuel together. You do not have to go there with us. We will give you the deen to go on your way.”

The two young vuelans checked with each other and were resolute with their answer. Ulva said, “Gratoan has described your actions to me, vuelessa. Sola guides you. I want to attack every horde on Vul with you”.

This young vuela had been told of the actions I took long ago in Pital village. I read that Gratoan knew of the actions that Ooya and I took with the horde to prevent further slaughter. I had not been aware that my actions were known. I wondered: He had run from his homestead. How did he know? I asked, “how do you know about what happened in Pital?”

Gratoan said, “I was running to get help for my family. A horde vuelo came after me but I knew how to circle and lose him in order to run to Pital casino. When I reached the rise in the boo woods that gives a view of Pital, I saw the horde was already approaching. The horde leader was having lo Dejortan dragged along with him. Dejortan’s kids ran out to their espo. I saw you run in front of them and try to shield them. The other vuelessa, Ooya tried also. You both were slapped away. The horde killed the kids and then killed lo Dejortan. I was sure you would be killed next and then the rest of the vuelas and kids.”

note from the copyright: Espo is used in the previous paragraph, in this case, it means father.

Gratoan continued, “I have thought about what happened many times. Others from Pital were in the boo wood with me and we all saw what happened. We wondered why you and the other vuelessa did not run away. We watched what you did to prevent further slaughter. Rotations later, when I saw you in Mohob village I did not recognize you. When you said my name, I knew you must be that same vuelessa.”

Ulva said, “Gratoan told me of this occurrence. That is why I am drawn to help you, vuelessa.”

Vuelessas are supposed to influence and encourage. Was I encouraging these young vuelans to die? Drawing horde attacks is not a safe activity. I tried to read their true thoughts. This is what was clear from both of their minds: We have no vuel unless the hordes are destroyed.

I told Gratoan to instruct Ulva in the use of the spin weapon and climbed back into the bench with Renzt. He sent a question with his thought: What are we dealing with back there?

I gave him an uncomfortable smile and nodded that it would be alright, and that was what I wanted to believe, also. Then I asked myself: Why does he believe everything I say? Why does he believe in everything I believe in? Seriously, why do I hold such influence in vuel? Is it simply my charisma? Was I selected and brought here from Earth because of my recognizable charisma?

I pondered these thoughts for part of a period. We rejoined the main road on the sur side of Sandia and drove on toward Puerta Lavaka. Some distance from the convergence of the trail with the road I read bad intent. My senses sharpened and I looked ahead with heightened purpose.

Renzt noticed my alarm and said, “what is it?”

Gratoan was watching me, too and was kneeling in the wagon bed with his weapon ready. The thought of bad intentions diminished. I looked behind us. Yes. It was there and now it was fading away. I called to Renzt and Gratoan, “someone was planning to attack us and we avoided them by going the other way.” I looked back for a moment and asked Gratoan, “watch carefully behind us for awhile.”

Renzt looked at me and increased the pace of the zebry to assure that we outran anything behind us that might be trying to catch up. In part of a horizon we topped a ridge and left the Sandia valley behind. The thought of bad intent disappeared completely from my thought stream now.

We drove on until we found a rest stop along the road where the zebry could be watered. A nearby stream had been dammed to create a pond for such use. One other wagon was there. We had no trouble with that teamster. Our explanation about going to Puerta Lavaka to pick up a cargo was sensible to the other driver. Another wagon came to the rest stop before we left and offered information on where to go to pick up a cargo. This teamster told us that a ship had come in and high fees were being paid for cargoes.

Sola was low in the sky when we rolled into the outskirts of Puerto Lavaka. We were smelling the salt in the air since we had left the rest stop. This brought a memory to me that strengthened my resolve. The village looked like any other village as we drove into it from inland. There were shops and houses and cafes. It did not appear to be the base of criminal activity that I had been exposed to some rotations ago with Ooya and Auvee.

The road we were on was leading to the mar but we were not seeing ships or port warehouses. Renzt called to us, “we should see the mar when we reach the face of the bluff.” We did see the mar when we topped the bluff. The village of Puerto Lavaka opened up in front of us on a coastal plain. The port on the lower plain was filled with warehouses and other buildings. On our rechan there was a walled holding. The wall set the large house and several smaller buildings apart from the village. A minimum of concentration on the thoughts in the area told me that the walled compound belonged to El Fuego.

Renzt pointed and said, “that must be the El Fuego compound.”

Gratoan and Ulva lifted up in the wagon bed to see what Renzt was pointing to. They stared at the compound, not sure what they were looking at. Following the bluff in the other direction, a large house was built into the side of the bluff. There are almost no buildings on Vul that are more than three levels high. This house was three levels from the top of the bluff, The building followed the bluff down to the base of the bluff, making it appear to be ten or eleven levels.

Renzt said, “that tall building must be the Corsair House. It is known all over Vul.” He turned to Gratoan and Ulva and me to say, “I think the horde leader we met intended for us to stay there,” Renzt further explained to me, “if we pay for the best, we and our wagon should be secure.” ′

I wondered if that was true. Renzt added, “this is what I have always been told, and by no less than Kregt.” He then sent his thought to me: The Corsair was not the place where you and Ooya and Auvee worked, was it?

I shook my head no and looked toward the bay. On the far side of the bay, a river flowed into the bay. What looked like a two level barge was in the water there. That had to be the Frigate Forbandet. I pointed and said, “I think the Frigate is on the other side of the bay, where the river flows in.”

We checked in to the Corsair house after arranging for feed and keeping of the zebry and our wagon. The livery vuelo asked us about our wagon and our weapons. Renzt gave no details of anything and asked the vuelo, “we are told there are cargoes for transport here.”

The livery vuelo looked at our weapons again and said, “armed as well as you are, you may be asked to transport a high value cargo.”

Renzt offered his palm to the vuelo, saying, “you are kind, until the next early brightness.”

All appearances and thought streams that I was able to read were telling me that El Fuego was important to the commerce of Puerto Lavaka. Ships brought in goods and those goods were sold to traders who, in turn, sold them for profit elsewhere. Everyone in Puerto Lavaka seemed to ignore the fact that the merchandise was originally stolen from somewhere. Renzt was thinking the same thoughts and asked me: Vuelans here seem nervous about something. Are you reading it?

I said to him, “we should stay in rooms high up in the Corsair.” He sent me the thought: Yes, answer my question after we are in our rooms.

Renzt nodded over to Gratoan and Ulva. They were standing at the window. They both grew up in rural areas and had probably never been in a building that had a third level. The rooms we took here at the Corsair were in the seventh level. Our window gave an amazing view of the harbor and the bay, with Sola setting in the clouds on the horizon of the Mar. Renzt and I walked up behind them. Renzt said, “it is beautiful.” I read the thought from both Ulva and Gratoan: It will be beautiful when the hordes are dead.

My pained expression was not ignored by my Renzt. When he suggested we share some vinho, I smiled my gratitude to him. I considered our young vuelan friends. They were committed to their cause. I thought to myself: Were they too committed? I reminded myself that they were vuelan and I had the same commitment that they did. I invited Ulva and Gratoan, “come, young friends, have some vinho with us and enjoy vuel with the setting Sola.”

The large room in the Corsair House was called the Deck. This room opened to a large open air deck that was on the third level from the street that curved down to the wharves of Puerto Lavaka. This allowed patrons to dine and watch the traffic move up and down the road. The view of the ships in port and the bay opening to the mar was stunning from this deck.

Renzt sent his thought: We are not being ignored here. At the same time he said to Ulva, “Ulva, you look like the setting Sola in your new ves.”

Ulva lowered her head to Renzt and me and said, “you are kind, lo Renzt, la vuelessa.”

“Gratoan helped her choose this ves.” Renzt acknowledged this.

We took our seats at our table and I and softly, “yes, we are popular.”

Ulva said to us, “it feels as if everyone is staring at us, or, at me, because of this beautiful ves.”

Gratoan was taking note of many of the vuelans around us and said to Renzt, “there is interest in our weapons, if not us. Do you think we are the only vuelans here that are carrying weapons?”

Renzt glanced at me. I shook my head that I was certain we were not the only armed vuelans here. He replied, “there are many here that are carrying weapons. They are concealing them better than we are.”

Gratoan asked, “are weapons carried in Centium and other cities?”

I had never been to Centium. I looked to Renzt for his answer. In his usual way, he did not answer specifically, saying only, “among my friends in Centium, Kregt carries a spin weapon and the vuelessa Aeia is under constant protection of a large body guard named Murgad.”

I was surprised as was Renzt, when both Gratoan and Ulva asked, “Murgad? Murgad is known to you? What does he look like? It is true that he is large and stronger than ten vuelen?” They were amazed that Renzt was a friend of the vuelo named Murgad. My reading of their thought was that Murgad was a famous gang fighter. Was I reading this correctly? I asked Renzt, “Did you ever meet this Murgad vuelo that is the body guard for Aeia?”

Renzt smiled, “I have met Murgad. He is a calm, and brutal looking vuelo. With every brightness I am reminded that he must be the most famous vuelan under Sola.”

The food served by the Corsair was sumptuous. I had not tasted anything this well prepared on Vul. The possible exception being the pellets that the Domesticate fed me on my arrival on Vul. The food was enhanced by several musicians playing on a platform along the wall. I began to read anticipation of a presentation. I asked Renzt, “is there going to be a performance of some kind?”

Renzt nodded to me and sent me the thought: Are you seeing this?

When he said it, I read the lust between Ulva and Gratoan before I saw their eyes lost in each other. I suggested, “Renzt and I are going to stay here into the dim and drink vinho, You two do not need to stay with us if you wish to gaze upon the glow of the dim.”

Renzt sent me the thought: Gaze upon the glow of the dim? Where did that come from?

Gratoan and Ulva left the table with a smile and nod to me. I said to Renzt, “that is a well known saying for enjoying amor between a vuelo and his vuela,” He did not believe me. I reminded him, “I am a vuelessa. I know such things. I can assure you that this is a common saying”

The presentation on the Deck began with trumpets and other horns and drums and symbols. Vuelen jumped onto the platform from a prop that looked like the bow of a ship. The vuelans in the room yelled and shrieked at these vuelen ran between the tables. This rush of vuelen gave the appearance of a real invasion to these patrons. Drums beat and horns blared as the invasion took place.

Flutes took the instrumental lead as, on the platform, vuelas ran across from one side to the other, screaming for their lives. They were followed by vuelen with farm implements who were battling with the invading corsairs. The mock battle was well performed. The poles and farm implements clashed, making loud cracking noises to make the audience believe the vuelen were fighting. The defenders held off the invaders well at first but the invaders at last wore the defenders down and beat them away, maiming and crippling them. Vul does not have metals and due to this the usual weapon is the dagger made of crystal and the long pole. The kuchir is a multi part weapon, having a dagger and blades and a hatchet, all within the same weapon. It is the preferred lethal weapon on Vul. The spin weapon that is in general use is not trusted.

The vuelas of the village were now run down and captured as loot by the invaders. Each vuela would be cornered by two or three of the corsairs, her ves torn away and she would be corded at her wrists and ankles. Several of the newly captured vuelas were put over a large boo log and amoriged by more than one of the corsairs. This looked real to me. I wondered to myself: Are the corsairs amoriging the captured vuelas on the platform? Is this part of the presentation? I leaned to Renzt’s ear to ask, “are the corsairs amoriging the vuelas, actually amoriging the vuelas? Or are they pretending?”

He nodded, sending his thought: I think they are amoriging the vuelas, The corsairs and the vuelas are not pretending. He paused, then added: This is vuel. It is so different from life on Earth. Vuelans consider this scene to be a natural part of vuel. They would feel cheated if it were not real.

Renzt was perceptive. My reading of thoughts was telling me the same. When the corsairs finished amoriging the vuelas, they put the vuelas over their shoulders and carried them off of the platform. The vuelas being carried off tried to cling and caress their captors, to beg for more.

A lone vuela ran across the platform. Her ves was mostly ripped away but she had escaped capture! She looked back as she ran, A vuelo was pursuing her! The pursuing corsair ran to the middle of the platform and looked in all directions. He stood still and listened. Did he hear the fleeing vuela? He ran from the stage while the musicians increased their volumes. In a moment, drums sounded as the vuela came back across the platform. The Corsair appeared in front of her. She stopped and held her rag of a ves together on her body. The corsair held his coil of cording in one hand and pointed to the ground in front of his feet.

The drums stopped. A flute played a low note. The vuela ended her flight. She went to her knees in front of the Corsair. He pointed to her and motioned that she should remove the last pieces of her ves. She looked down at the shreds of what remained of her ves. She pulled it away. The corsair motioned to her to cross her wrists for the cord. She did so while lowering her head submissively.

The drums began to beat again as the Corsair put his cords on the vuela. She now belonged to him. He lifted her wrists over her head to survey her, turning her for his full assessment. The vuela looked up at the corsair and back to her own body. Was she worthy of his capture? When she was turned toward him again she lifted her face to his. The musicians paused while the corsair lifted his gaze up her body. The vuela met his eyes. Her head nodded and turned. Was she acceptable?

The musician’s horns sounded and increased their volume. The drums became intense. The corsair backed the vuela to a large rock that was part of the stage. He put her back against the rock and penetrated her. The drums quieted but increased the tempo. The horns undulated their tune. The flute played louder and more forceful as the captured vuela lifted her legs and encircled the back of the corsair. The two performers clearly, and athletically, amoriged with each other.

The patrons began to stand and call out “Ah!” “Ah!” “Ah!” “Ah!” “Ah!” I wondered what concept the vuelans were cheering. Was it the enslavement of the vuela? I tried to read what the value was within the satisfaction of the patrons that were cheering. Pleasure. That was all I read. Contentment and pleasure. In the circumstance of the story, both the pursuing corsair and the captured vuela found pleasure. For these patrons, that was the entire purpose of the story.

Most of the patrons left the deck room when the performance ended. Renzt and I and a few couples remained to drink vinho for awhile longer. Renzt asked me with his thought: Was that disturbing, because of what happened to you, my vuelessa, my amora?

I read his thought, he was concerned for my sensibilities. I said to him, “no. This was completely different. The pursuit of the vuela by the corsair and his assessment of her was symbolic of vuel. The pleasure she found in her capture and penetration is also symbolic of vuel and emblematic of amor. These are simple concepts. I believe that vuel may be better off for appreciating these concepts over others. Amor is more valuable than deen in this scenario, and that is a good concept.”

Renzt took a long sip of his chalice of vinho, looked into my eyes and sent me the thought: How, then, would my amora appreciate her own capture and penetration by her amoro?

I thought to myself: Did he wonder if I wanted his penetration? Was there doubt within him that I was his captive in amor? I held my chalice with both hands to finish my vinho, then placed it to the side on the table. I slowly licked the wine from my lips while looking into his eyes. I extended my arms across the table to him, and submissively crossed my wrists.

The attack came three horizons from Puerto Lavaka late in the brightness after we left with our cargo. We had indeed been contracted to transport high value merchandise. Renzt was warned. I was checking the cargo with the agent while he was talking with the owner of the stables. When we rolled out of Puerto Lavaka, I read Renzt’s thought: You can ask me what he said now. I asked him, “who is going to attack us?”

In the wagon, Gratoan and Ulva stopped whispering to each other and gave us their attention.

Renzt shook his head, saying, “I did not say we were going to be attacked!”

I waited.

Renzt continued, “there is a good chance, though. The stable master told me that there are horde members that sell such information about the cargoes to others that rob the loot that is being sent to the markets.”

I was in disbelief. I asked, “you are telling us that the horde members rob themselves?”

Renzt said, “that is not what was said. It was only said that some high value cargoes have never been delivered and the teamsters disappeared with the cargoes. We have been hired to deliver this cargo to Geshlan Village. There is a port agent there that will pay us the bonus fee for this delivery.”

“If we deliver this cargo.”

Renzt turned all the way around to Gratoan to say, “the stable master said we should be aware of our surroundings. Gratoan, you and Ulva should be ready with your weapons. We will give you as much warning as we are able.”

There was a rest stop that we took advantage of to water the zebry and feed them. Renzt asked Gratoan, “do you think Ulva can trigger a weapon accurately if she needs to?”

Gratoan said, “she can wind and reload darts quickly. If we need an extra weapon she will have one ready for who needs a weapon loaded and wound.” He looked at me when he said this.

Renzt said, “Ulva, have a weapon ready to give to Era. She will fire first. I will hold back so that I can cover for her while she trades weapons with you.”

Ulva nodded her understanding. She was apprehensive of our preparation.

We topped a hill on the road when I read the danger. I called out so that Gratoan and Ulva would hear me also, “the attackers will be in this wooded area ahead of us. Prepare.”

We held our weapons ready. When we came closer I read a strategy and called out, “they will rush toward us and when we aim our weapons they will fall to the ground to wait for us to fire. Then they will rush toward us again. They believe the second round of darts fired will not harm them.”

Renzt asked, “how many are you reading?”

I said, “three or four hands of them.” This meant fifteen to twenty. When I said this two vuelos stepped into the road ahead.

Renzt slowed the zebry and said, “these vuelen are expecting us to increase our speed and try to run through them, aren’t they?”

“Yes. They have a cord that is on the ground that they intend to throw up in front of us.”

Renzt slowed some more. He said, “I am going to stop short of them. We will be triggering from a standing position. They will not know what our weapons can do.”

“They are coming, get ready for them to rush and watch for them to drop!”

The horde vuelen came out of the trees from in front of our position. Renzt’s idea to stop short had caused them to change their plans. They were too far away from us to throw spikes or spears. They ran toward us. We lifted and aimed our weapons. They continued to rush toward us. We knew our range. They came well within our range before their planned drop to the ground.

I called, “trigger now!” I triggered my first five or six darts. I heard Renzt and Gratoan triggering also. Shrieks and calls of pain came from the horde vuelen. We had hit most of them, surprising them completely with the range and accuracy of our weapons. There was a second wave of vuelen that now ran from the trees toward us. These vuelen were thinking we had no lethal dart triggering capability remaining.

Renzt called, “hold triggering until they get closer!”

I read confusion from the vuelen running toward us. They did not understand why the vuelen that had dropped to the ground were not getting up to rush toward us again. By the time the second group of vuelen considered the possibility that the other horde members were not getting up, they had come within range. We triggered into them. I crouched and traded my weapon with Ulva and lifted back to a triggering stance. Two of the horde vuelen were coming from beyond the zebry.

I read Renzt’s thought: You take those in front of the zebry! He trusted my aim. He turned to check behind us to help Gratoan if it was necessary. The vuelen running toward us were thinking that the zebry would shield them. They were correct, but they had to come around the zebry at some point. When they did, I triggered into them, the last one as he was about to jump toward the wagon bench where I was kneeling. His expression when he felt my dart punch through his ribs was utter disbelief. I spun on the bench to see two vuelen, wounded, dragging themselves away. I held from triggering into them to try to read any more vuelen that remained in the woods. Someone there was running away. The vuelan running away was terrified. He would be no threat. There was a vuelo on the ground, though, that was alive and waiting for an opportunity to strike.

I called to Renzt and Gratoan, “one of these is alive! Beware!” Gratoan and Renzt both looked to me. I frantically scanned to try to read the thought that I had read before. I read from the vuelo that he heard my warning. His thought was: Did they see me move?

We had not seen the vuelo move. He held his kuchir close, ready to lift up and attack. Then I read another. This vuelo had been hit in the second rush. I called, “there are two of them.” One drawback of reading thought is that you don’t know what direction it is coming from. A stronger thought may also be further away than some others nearby.

Renzt thought: Wait. Wait until they move. He signaled to Gratoan to hold still and watch.

I felt useless. I could not tell Renzt and Gratoan of the danger. My weapon might not be good defense against a crazed vuelo with a kuchir. I crouched on the wagon, watching and turning and watching closely. The thought coming from the vuelo was that he was not wounded badly and he wanted to attack and he believed he would be successful.

Gratoan jumped from the wagon, picked up a kuchir from one of the dead horde vuelen and ran toward a movement. He had seen the movement that Renzt did not see and that I did not read.

Renzt stepped toward the direction that Gratoan was running, holding his weapon ready. I checked behind us.

Gratoan screamed, “vuelo kuchir!” This call meant vuelo on vuelo, kuchir to kuchir combat.

Renzt was closer to the scene. He could trigger his weapon. The wounded vuelo jumped up with his kuchir ready to attack the one of us that was coming. I read Renzt’s thought that he would not be able to shoot accurately because this was happening too quickly.

The horde vuelo was able to stand and get his kuchir up enough to partially deflect the slash from Gratoan. He was not able to anticipate or defend the winding motion of Gratoan’s arm and the next horrible slash that chopped into his neck with a sickening thud.

A panicked thought came into my consciousness. Beyond Gratoan the other horde vuelo that had been waiting in the grass jumped up to run away. My dart ended that vuelo’s flight.

The effectiveness of a vuelessa is limited to influence and the physical ability of the vuela. Gratoan saw what I could not read. His prowess with the kuchir depended on strength. Strength that only vuelen possess. I read that he had practiced that strategy with the kuchir many times and had imagined being able to use it to kill horde vuelen. Gratoan stood over the dead vuelo for a moment, savoring his victory. I sensed his aggressive, lethal rage subside. This is an emotion that vuelen possess. Rage combined with strength is a terrible, and valuable, combination

We rolled into Sandia a couple of periods later. Renzt and Gratoan had fixed the bloody kuchir to a tarp pole on the wagon. The spectacle we presented was well recognized by the vuelans of Sandia this brightness. We had been attacked. We had killed those that attacked us. The vuelans of Sandia village recognized that power had shifted. They did not know how, yet. They did know that their vuel was changing. These vuelans may have known some of the vuelen in the horde that attacked us. They would find their bodies along the road toward Puerto Lavaka.

Renzt sent thought to me: We are being received completely differently in Sandia this brightness. Are you reading such thoughts?

I turned to look at Gratoan. Ulva was clinging to him. She peered up at him with absolute respect. She had witnessed his fearlessness and might. Their vuel was now altered. Gratoan had previously thought that he would defend his amora against anything. Now, they both knew that he was absolutely capable of such defense.

I looked around at the vuelans of Sandia. Renzt was correct: We were being perceived as powerful and dangerous. These vuelans would be offering us their complete respect. In Sandia, a place within the influence of the El Fuego Horde, vuel had been altered.

A phrase in thought that I received some time ago came into my mind. I was not sure who had sent it or what the purpose was but the phrase now came forward in my consciousness: In vuel, perception is everything.

Kregt 1.5

Technology Advances

This story is told by Kregt

I called to the vuelen on the beach, “when the ball at the tip of the spear hits the planks and catches fire, throw the sea water on the fire!”

Lo Raugaton, standing next to me, said, “Lo Kregt, do you understand that I want this to work as much as you do?”

I replied, “yes! I do.” The ball on the spear was made up of magnesium and phosphorus and several brittle capsules of salt water. The mixture had successfully caused flames during our tests but this would be a more realistic test.

Eloe had been able to tell the vuelans of the bay area where to look for the deposits of magnesium and where to find concentrations of phosphorus. She was also able to identify the elements that we were looking for. More than once, she asked me, “how am I able to know this?”

I told her every time she asked, “it is enough that we know these things.” I did know what she was asking, though. The process the Resjed used to give us knowledge was sensory alluvion. Visual and auditory stimuli converge to deposit information into the human consciousness. Sensory alluvion is a process that the Resjed humans use routinely. Their belief is, the value of knowledge is the use of knowledge. Eloe and I experienced extensive amounts of sensory alluvion during our visit to the Resjed orbiting base and we were experiencing the use of that knowledge.

I would ask Eloe, “you know that magnesium can be mined and processed from material found one horizon inland from the bluffs above the bay. I know you have knowledge of geography, but how do you know that detail?”

She told me, “the Resjed have thoroughly scanned Vul and my knowledge includes what those scans have revealed. The problem I have is that I need to be asked specific questions in order for my data to be of use.”

Can you read my thought and pull a question about what I am looking for or do I have to ask specifically, and can you, do you, translate our words for the Resjed terms?

She nodded to me as soon as I began my thought.

Are you reading my thoughts before I think them through to myself? Are you reading them so quickly, I did not finish this question. She was already nodding.

She said, “I am reading your thought before my own. I wonder if your thoughts are dominant over my own, though I know that they are not.”

I tried not to think through an entire sentence to see if she read the same information.

She smiled, saying, “if I do not read your thoughts my consciousness seeks them. Reading your thought calms me.”

I took her hand. She said, “yes. It is similar to touching.”

I thought of the sensation of her vagina. Her eyes closed and she nodded. She breathed in and said, “yes. I am acutely aware of my arousal and how your thought causes me to become aroused, I read my body preparing for your penetration. Memory cues want to send me into the beginnings of orgasm. Can we return to the subject of,”

I didn’t have to form the thought, Eloe said, “the magnetic material you seek is available on Vul and is called eltrez. Eltrez is plentiful near smoke crystal deposits. The smoke crystals protrude from soil and appear to be wet rocks. These are not crystals at all, but glass formed by lightning strikes that are attracted to the eltrez deposits near the surface.

This data launched the eltrez processing in the Bay bluffs. All I had to do was offer a blue for a head weight, which is the weight of the normal vuelan’s head, of eltrez. This brought buckets of the material along with several vuelans that already knew how to process the material to produce polarity. A vuela named Welele had sewn the material into her ves and she could make it lift away from her body. A vuelo named Dragilon could make balls roll up hill. Another vuelonamed Krunon could make his hat lift off of his head several inches. All of these tricks demonstrated that the understanding of the magnetic material by vuelans was apart from the knowledge that Eloe and I had been given. The Resjed were unaware that vuelans has discovered the magnetic material or that they knew how to work with it.

I sent thought to Eloe to ask these vuelans that understood polarity for their help. She read their names and asked, “la Welele, lo Krunon, lo Dragilon, you have knowledge of the properties of eltrez. Will you help us with the endeavor we have taken on for the defense of the Great Bay?”

La Welele spoke up, “the vuelessa Hetha has said that you were sent by the gods. What possible help can we give you?”

I sent Eloe another thought: This is what I was afraid of. They think we are of the gods. We need to explain ourselves. Can you begin that explanation? I will help.

Eloe smiled at Welele and said, “la Welele, if we were gods we would not be asking for your help. We are vuelans. The Resjed have given us knowledge of the elements of Vul and the advances in technology that are possible.”

Eloe paused for me to add to the explanation. I said, “One of the reasons they gave us this knowledge is so that we will be able to defend ourselves here on Vul. The Resjed will continue to protect us from invaders that come from the stars, but we will be responsible for ourselves here on Vul.” I sent Eloe the thought: Tell them they have knowledge that the Resjed gods were unaware of.

Eloe began with a laugh, “the three of you have knowledge that the gods did not know you possessed!”

The vuelans confirmed their amazement with each other. I sent the thought: This has raised their confidence significantly. We should be able to create the spear caster that we want to build.

“Let us explain what we need to build to destroy the ships that the horde from the mar will be sailing in, before they ever reach our shores!”

The vuelen called, “AH!” “AH!” The vuela, Welele, clapped her hands in the air.

I signaled the young vuelo to cast the spear. He was the champion spear caster in the Great Bay area. He was able to cast a spear lengths farther than any other vuelo in the distance contest. I stepped back when the spear reached it’s apogee. It appeared to wobble in the air. The young vuelo, Cjelstad told me the cast would appear to wobble. He said this his spear casts typically wobble in the air and that he believes this wobble gives his casts more distance. I asked him how many other vuelos can cast spears almost as well as he can in the Great Bay.

Cjelstad said, “there are many spear casters that can hit a fish in the water from more than twenty lengths. I am the champion because the contest is only for distance.”

“Can these vuelos cast a spear into a boat more than twenty lengths away?”

Cjelstad did not understand the reason for my question. He asked, “did they miss the fish?”

“No. No, they were trying to hit the boat.”

Now he was perplexed, “why would they want to cast a spear into a boat?”

“We may need vuelos to cast the spears with the fire tips into boats that want to attack our villages. We want to set those boats on fire!”

Our conversation was not going well. He said, “you are building a magnetic spear caster that will cast the spears with fire tips into the boats. Why do you also need vuelos who can cast spears?”

“The magnetic spear caster may not work.”

Cjelstad did not accept this possibility. He said, “the gods gave you knowledge of this magnetic spear caster. They would not do so if it did not work.”

“The gods can only tell us what is possible. They can not, and do not assure us of success. We do not know if we can build a magnetic spear caster that will work at all.”

Cjelstad was now in disbelief. He said, “the magnetic spear caster is to cast spears to the horizon! No one is able to cast a spear to the horizon!”

“That is the other reason I want to see how well you are able to cast a spear that holds a fire tip this brightness!”

The spear hit the planks that formed a deck measuring only a length from the center. The spear tip components contained salt water while other components contained magnesium and phosphorus. They shattered and spread over the deck igniting small flames that did not alarm any of the vuelen watching the demonstration. Two vuelos stood ready to pour their buckets of sea water onto the fire.

I watched the small flames for a moment and then called to one of three vuelen with a bucket of sea water. “go ahead and throw your bucket on the flames.” I was disappointed that the flames were as small as they were. The vuelo splashed the flames and jumped back as the flames spread and grew by a factor of two or three. The second vuelo saw the flames flow across the planks and reacted by throwing his bucket of seawater on the flames to douse them. This caused the flames to increase again and flare into the air!

The first vuelo grabbed another bucket of sea water and threw it on the flames, momentarily dousing them. He watched in disbelief as the flames rekindled as intense as before.

Some vuelen called, “AH!” “AH!” “AH!” now. They believed that the fire was a success. I held both of my hands up in the air and called “AH!” This part of the plan was successful. I sent my thought to Eloe: Tell Hetha that the fire tip for the spear is successful. My amora, have you anticipated our next amorig as much as I have? I will meet you in our lair at the bluff. I wondered if Hetha would read Eloe’s arousal, and I smiled to myself.

Rooba bluff extends into the Great Bay toward Rooba island. Hetha told us of a hacienda on this land that had recently been vacated by the vuelans that lived there. She told about the vuelans that owned the property leaving the hacienda with all of their possessions after dismissing the servants. She had told us, “I became aware of this occurrence and summoned the vuelans that had worked at the hacienda. I told these servants that they should return to the hacienda and care for it as if it were their own hacienda. I told them I would find new duenos for the hacienda. I wondered if the family that vacated this hacienda was one of those that fled to a location they thought would be safe from the Intempla invasion.”

“Does anyone know where those duenos are now?” I did want to know if I was moving into a casa that someone would return to and ask me what I was doing in their casa.”

Hetha said, with sadness, “I received thought from Aeia that they are in Centium. She told me they were safe.”

I arrived at the hacienda to find Eloe waiting for me and Hetha was with her. They already had chalices of vinho and were in the great room. I had imagined meeting Eloe and having vinho with her in our lair, which is a large living suite with bedroom, sand room and a sitting room overlooking the bay. The duenos that built this casa created a wonderful living space for themselves and we were taking advantage of it.

Eloe and Hetha smiled and greeted me. I took Eloe in my arms, lifting her off her feet to bess her. She had put her chalice down in anticipation of this. She was wearing a white ves. Hetha gave me a disappointed look, saying with laughter, “I don’t get a hug and bess?”

I smiled, telling her, “I will only bess your hand, my vuelessa. I know what you are capable of.”

Hetha shook her head, saying, “you are not vuelan are you, lo Kregt.” She looked to Eloe and back to me. “It is good that the two of you found each other.”

I took a long sip of the chalice of vinho they had ready for me and asked, “you are here to ask something, my vuelessa?” I was sure that she was here for more than a friendly visit.

Hetha explained herself immediately, “the Tesar rangers have sent a request. They have data about advanced weapons being built by a maker named Pagalund and you have access to these weapons. Is this data true lo Kregt?”

I glanced at Eloe. She had not confirmed any of this for Hetha. I offered, “I know of Pagalund. I do not know where he builds weapons, but I can order them and ship them somewhere. The normal time to deliver is two or three sixes. I will have to contact the teamster that drives the wagon built for this purpose and that teamster should be in the Akavan so that is going to add.” I stopped my explanation. She and Eloe had already read all of the details.

Hetha paused, only to be gracious, and said, “sixes do not exist. A large number of weapons must be delivered within two brightnesses.”

The Rooba bluff was a private place to park the transport. The biological security of the floater was unnecessary due to the seclusion of the location. There were several lawns on the bluff lined with rocks that allowed the transport to sit where no one would unknowingly bump into it. The caretaker vuelans were friendly, but cautious when interacting with me and Eloe. Hetha called the caretakers together at the hacienda while we boarded and floated away. Letha and the caretakers she managed, were told that we would be away for a couple of brightnesses to visit friends in Centium. This was true.

We floated up and I asked Eloe if Hetha’s explanation was being accepted.

She was reading Hetha’s thoughts for a moment, then told me, “they are accepting the explanation because Hetha is giving it. They do not believe it at all.”

“Vuelans are more intelligent than we give them credit for being.”

Eloe asked, “do you know where you’re going?” Then she said, “you are waiting for me to tell you what direction to go in, aren’t you? Can you give me a landmark?”

First, the confluence of the Yuko and Braza rivers. Then, Refurio, then the edge of the Cadizan plain that meets the road through the Puan thickets.

Eloe looked at our position on the transport navigational instruments and said, “Go straight to five degrees from the center of brightness. This heading will reduce our flight time by a period.”

You’re seeing the landmarks I described on a larger scale?

She said, “yes. My ability to read the alluvial data is becoming, well, it is happening automatically for me. I am not having to concentrate on a subject for a multitude of possibilities to appear in my consciousness. I am able to choose the best option and develop an answer. I feel like a computer.”

I stared at her a moment. I don’t think I’m able to do that.

Eloe nodded her head at me. She was reading more than my thought. She told me, “yes. You are doing the same thing that I am doing. I am reading how you are thinking and the process I am using is the same process you are using.”

I looked through the forward viewer. Our transport does not have a windshield. It looks like a windshield from the inside, but can show any of the 360 degrees of views. The default view is forward in the direction you are headed. Other views can be selected. I looked ahead and down at the terrain and recognized nothing.

Eloe read my unfamiliarity and said, “We are going the exact direction you want to go in.”

I relaxed and enjoyed the view. Soon, as she had promised, I recognized the Cadizan prairie.

Eloe said, “bank to the nor and the Cadizan village should be at the horizon.”

How do you know where the village is?

She replied, “I read enough detail from your memory to make a good guess.”

“You are amazing. There it is.” the Cadizan village was ahead of us slightly beyond the horizon from where we met the Cadizan plains. We were arriving at the village late in the brightness. The meal would be prepared soon. We began to recognize the Cadizans going about their activities. I was wondering where to set the floater down.

Eloe said, “There is a vuelessa here.”

“Are you sure? There wasn’t one when I was here.”

She said, with certainty, “her name is Ooya. I am trying to send her my thought.”

I slowed and made a wide circle above the village. It appeared much the same as when I was here many rotations ago. This village is used seasonally. I was hearing information that the Cadizans wanted to build this site into a permanent village. This location would be the closest shipping point to Refurio and the Yuko river for Cadizan beef.

Eloe said, “Ooya knows your name from her acquaintance with Renzt. She was together with the vuelessa Era when Renzt found them among slavuelas and paid the fee for their release.”

That is interesting. Renzt is buying slavuelas. He is paid well. He can buy what he wants. Was he trading in slavuelas now?

Eloe said your name is well known among Cadizans. I have told her that I am your espa. I have told her that our transport is not visible to her and we are circling the village. She is telling us to land in the high ground to the dim.

I was familiar with this area. There were mounds there. I thought: Ooya has a sense of humor. She is having us land in a place where I enjoyed an early dim with a vuela. Her name was, what was that vuela’s name? How did Ooya know this?

Eloe said, “Her name is Valua. Have there been so many that you have forgotten their names?”

I began to laugh. You have read exactly how many vuelas and I am sure you have read their names, and you know that none of them were on Earth, don’t you?

She smiled as she said, “there was that first vuela, Lelia, she was from Earth. This is vuel, my amoro. It is completely different, and I know your thoughts are only of me now.”

“Her name was Leli. She was from Earth, not on Earth, don’t change the subject!”

Eloe’s answer was to throw her arms around me and bess me firmly. As she bessed me, I thought: She is aroused, significantly aroused! I thought of feeling her naked body under mine. My thought aroused her more. I amor you! I amor only you, my Eloe.

She pushed herself away, breathing deeply. Her eyes were closed for a moment.

You have had an orgasm, haven’t you?

She looked at me and nodded. She breathed, “remember my knowledge that I told you about. When the sensory activation starts, that’s when I sense the swelling of the vaginal wall by my urethra and I cannot ignore that sensation and it gives me an orgasm.” She composed herself and, breathing deeply, pointed to the viewer, saying, “Ooya awaits our landing.”

We were circling toward a vuela standing in the open raised area outside the village. Her light hair was blowing in the breeze and made her easy to see. She held her arms out to motion to us to land in front of her. I pointed the nose down and bumped the grass. Ooya stared at the flattened grass and not at us. She knew where we were and could not see our transport.

We stepped out of the hatch door onto the grass. I saw a vuelo I recognized coming from the village. Ooya went to the grass in front of us and began to rise. Eloe and I froze to watch her unfold upward. The vuelessa was stunning. Her hands swept up her body in a fluid movement to her breasts and her palms turned toward us as she spread her arms. She lifter her face to say, “I will serve you.” Then, she ran forward to embrace us both. This was unusual, I thought.

My friend from long ago, Damant, called, “you cannot take your eyes from her, can you, Kregt?”

“Damant! You must meet my espa!” I picked up Ooya’s ves for her. She was giving me all of her attention. I was sure she was reading every thought in my memory. I offered my palm to Damant, saying, “this is my espa, Eloe.” I turned to Eloe, “you have read this name in my fond memories. This is Damant.”

Damant said, referring to Eloe, “you chose to cosado a vuelessa! You are a clever vuelo.”

Eloe smiled widely, “you are kind, lo Damant. I am not a vuelessa, only an espa.”

Damant looked beyond us and shook his head, and motioned toward the transport he could not see. “What have you discovered, my clever friend?”

I wanted to show off the transport desperately. “Be kind to understand that I cannot show it to you, though I wish that I could.”

Damant showed me his sly smile. He knew I wanted to show him the transport and that I did not want to do so publicly. He said, “come! The dim meal will be ready soon. Share vinho with us!”

After the meal we drank vinho and discussed the plans for the Cadizan’s new permanent village of Cadizia. Damant and two vuelen that I had met before, Gidat and Bulkot were in the discussion.

Bulkot said, “Kregt, we discussed naming the village after you. You must know that everyone laughed because we know how you do not want your name used publicly.”

Eloe and the vuelessa Ooya were with us. They both looked quickly at me, wondering what my reaction would be. I told the vuelen, “you chose a better name with Cadizia, but my name is now well known on Vul, in spite of my best efforts.”

Gidat had been waiting to say, “Damant says that you came here in a transport that we cannot see. Tell us how this is possible.”

Gidat’s question gave me the opportunity I was waiting for. I looked at the vuelen and at Ooya, and began, “Eloe and I were invited to visit the Resjed, the red gods, in their city high in the sky. They gave us the invisible transport to travel in.” I waited to allow them to process what I had said and continued, “Vuel is going to advance. The knowledge to cause this advancement has been given to me and to Eloe. We are imparting this knowledge to any and all vuelans who want to have it.”

They all gave me a blank stare. “There is knowledge that can build a wagon that travels as fast as a bird through the air, but on the ground.”

Eloe said, “there is knowledge that tells us how to grow grass so tall that the cattle never finish eating it and to breed cattle that are larger and healthier than have ever been grown.”

I continued, “there is knowledge that is called tech-nol-ogy that will create a way to talk to someone beyond the horizon as if they were standing next to you. All of these things are ours.” I stopped at this point. I was sure the Cadizans were already asking in their heads what the cost would be. I said, “there is a cost. The red gods want Vul to be protected by vuelans.”

The vuelen questioned this. Damant asked, “how are we supposed to defend Vul against the invaders from the stars? Do you have knowledge for how we roam the stars?”

While he was asking the question, I thought of the chemicals for propulsion and the resins that would build a spacecraft. “Yes, we do, but the Resjed will continue to protect us from any invaders from the stars. All we need to do is defend ourselves here on Vul. I remember the stories I was told of Cadizans defending against a criminal horde many annaros ago. Are there Cadizans in these current brightnesses that would defend against another horde?”

Bulkot said with no hesitation, “all Cadizans are ready and able to defend the Cadiz at this period and at any place in the Cadizan plains.”

I smiled at Bulkot and the others. “I knew that, but that is not the case everywhere on Vul. That is why I have come here.”

Damant and Gidat and Bulkot checked with each other and said, almost as one, “we will help you lo Kregt! Where do we need to go?”

Damant continued, “Our vuelessa Ooya has informed us that a Vuelessa of Centium has been designated. This has only happened if a severe threat is imminent. Where does vuel need help?”

I held my hands up to calm them. “A large force has been gathered in Centium. You will help most by defending the Cadiz.” They looked disappointed. I added, “the forces of Centium do need some of the new weapons that Pagalund is building.”

Bulkot, Damant and Gidat checked with each other. Damant spoke for them, “we will take you to Pagalund at first brightness. Kregt, you are Cadizan. Pagalund will provide you with every weapon that he currently has available.”

I looked at Eloe and Ooya. They both nodded to me. Aeia had been informed.

The new arms manufacturing cave that Pagalund built proved once again to Eloe and me that vuelans would not need any coaxing to take on new technology. There was no trail to the remote canyon. I asked Bulkot how he found this place.

Bulkot said, “there are several markers. They are obvious to me. These same markers appear to be random tufts of grass or succulents to you.”

It was the early brightness. I had left Eloe in the tienda we were loaned to sleep in. I smelled a cooking fire from somewhere, but there was no smoke. I began to understand that Pagalund and his vuelans lived here as well as building their weapons in this cave system. I was led down a narrow path that did not appear to be a path, to a rock wall that featured a large moving slab of sandstone. Bulkot took a convenient rock and taped a code on the wall and a slab of rock rolled away to open the cave.

A vuelo from within said, “Bulkot! This is not a scheduled visit.”

Behind the vuelo, two vuelas held weapons ready. Bulkot said, “Chekt, you may have met this vuelo before. This is lo Kregt.”

Chekt looked closely at me and said, “Kregt. I was in the shop the brightness that you came in but did not take notice of you. You finance our shipments and your wagons transport our weapons. I am privileged to know you. Come! I believe Pagalund has finished his desayun.”

Only when we were invited in did the vuelas holding the weapons relax slightly. Further inside the system of caves I recognized Pagalund. He was curious about who was visiting and remembered me, calling out, “lo Kregt! You are alive! I had a wager that you would wound yourself, did I win that bet?”

I walked to meet Pagalund and said, “I have been fortunate that I have not had to use my weapon except a few times. Your weapon prevented my harm! I tried to visit your house in Refurio and found it destroyed. I was thrilled to hear you were well.”

Pagalund gave me his palm, saying, “the gods were kind.” He looked at me suspiciously and asked, “What bad intent brings you to me this brightness?”

“It is true that this is more than a friendly visit, Pagalund. I must request all the weapons you can spare. I must deliver them to the force from Centium that will meet the criminal hordes in the upcoming brightnesses.”

Pagalund was a cautious vuelo. He asked, “there is a force from Centium? Does that mean that there is a designated Vuelessa of Centium?”

I nodded, “yes, there is.”

He asked, “are you familiar with this Vuelessa of Centium?”

“Yes I am. We have been friends for a long time.”

Pagalund paused a moment. Then he said, “come with me.”

I followed and he told me while we walked that I could have the eleven spin weapons that were ready for shipment. We turned into a cave that was brightly lighted. He motioned me to a table. I saw dart ammunition that appeared to have a spiral design. He picked one up, telling me, “this is our new ammunition. We designed it to be used in the new Seven Twelve S. We have been able to increase the power in the S version. The spiral design you see causes these darts to spin in flight. This ammunition is more accurate and flies faster than the usual dart. There are enough spiral darts here for seven triggers per weapon. This should stop the crazed charge of any attacking horde.”

I said to Pagalund, “Centium will pay any deen you ask for this ammunition and the eleven weapons. What do I tell them your price is for this arsenal?”

Pagalund did not hesitate. “I will expect the forces of Centium to return these weapons. If they do not, the city of Centium must pay me one amber crystal.”

We closed the hatch door of the transport and lifted up. Our Cadizan friends strained to see us float away. Bulkot stepped carefully forward with his hand outstretched to see if we were gone. They all began to wave toward the sky. “Did you?” I didn’t finish the sentence.

Eloe said, “I sent thought to Ooya that we were waving good bye to them.”

I asked in thought: Did Aeia say any more about the amber crystal payment for the weapons?

Eloe said, “She only said to tell you to make sure Dekt realizes how valuable these weapons are.”

Interesting. Do you think she was reading the thought from Pagalund when he told me that price for the weapons? Could she do that? Could she read that through my thoughts?

Eloe considered this. “She may be able to, or more likely, she concluded why Pagalund valued the weapons so high. He wants the users to understand how advanced they are.”

We are floating back across the higher elevations toward the Braza valley. If we think that the hordes are going toward the villages in the coastal hills and they came from the Geshlan area, can you tell me where we would look for them?

Eloe began to answer before my thought finished. She said, “hold this heading until we reach the Braza. We should float over the rio Braza between Geshlan and Akavan. When we cross above the Braza we should adjust our heading toward the nor.”

It was amazing to have Eloe be able to tell me how to navigate. We were saving periods by not having to follow landmarks. We crossed the Braza and could see what I thought was Geshlan in the distance to the nor. It was no longer necessary to give a full coherent thought to Eloe. She was monitoring my thought and said, “that pier down there is a river landing to the sur of Geshlan. We are close to the point we intended. Bear to the nor just ten degrees. This heading will take us straight through the Geshlan valley to the coastals.”

Are we using abbreviations for map features now? I can’t see what is in your head...

This made Eloe laugh, “amoro, be kind to understand that I am seeing things as if I am familiar, and do not worry, I will explain if I detect any questions in your thinking.”

As I began my next thought, Eloe said, “if the horde was headed through this valley then we should see them, unless they are in a dense forest.”

We floated on through the Geshlan valley. Vuelans were visible in the fields at first. There seemed to be no fear in this area. We continued. The valley became more narrow and the river became a creek. We were seeing no trace of a horde.

Eloe began to look through the viewer as if she was unsure of what she was seeing. She said, “I am reading something strange in the near distance.”

Ahead, I saw a clearing. I pulled up and banked the floater around the edge of the clearing. The instruments in the transport sounded a warning tone. I steered further away from the clearing. I began to ask, “what is.”

Eloe said, “I don’t know. This is not in the navigation data. I don’t trust what I am seeing.”

I circled the clearing while keeping the clearing in the viewer. In the distance I saw an anomaly and hit the zoom on the viewer. I stared at what looked like a crash site.

Eloe said, “that’s what it looks like to me. I don’t have data on this, do you?”

I continued the circle and held the viewer on the crash site. Eloe did not interrupt as I thought out loud to her, “this must have to do with the Intempla invaders. This is a space craft that crashed into the planet after being disabled by the Resjed defense.” The zoom view showed something else in the foreground. I thought: Are those?

Eloe finished for me, “bodies. This site is toxic. See the road there? Pull the viewer back! There!”

I saw what she saw. It was a dead and decaying wildwolf. We began to look closer.

She said it for me, “those bodies are vuelan. In the area there must be fifty or so dead and the wildwolf did not kill them. The wildwolf was killed by the toxin that killed the vuelans.”

We continued around the clearing and saw more bodies as we went around. There is no.

She continued for me, “road. No, this was where a horde was coming straight through the wilderness. They did not know what they were being exposed to until it was too late.”

We were on the other side of the clearing now. Eloe said, “the coastals are thirty degrees above brightness horizon.”

I set the course. The terrain became less forested. There were now more meadows than stands of trees. Ahead we saw a road that Eloe confirmed was the main road from Puerto Lavaka to the area where the Geshlan valley meets the low hills that become the coastals. We continued and saw a wagon with perhaps fifteen vuelen. The vuelen carried weapons. I asked in thought: Are those vuelen that are part of a horde?

Eloe did not answer. This did not make sense to her. Our knowledge base did not include current movements of criminal hordes. She finally said, “That cannot be the horde that has over run villages. They appear to be sick. Most of them are limping!”

I thought out loud, “you don’t suppose?”

She shook her head, saying, “I have no idea.”

I took the transport over the vuelen’s heads and continued up the road. In another horizon we encountered another horde. This was a large camp in a clearing off the road. This horde wanted their whereabouts to be unknown. This was a large camp but there were only small fires burning. I thought: Let’s take a close look at this camp. I wonder if these vuelans are connected to the others.

We floated over the camp slowly at tree top altitude. Most of the vuelans here were vuelas. There were also older children. There may have been younger children that were not in sight. Eloe did not have to ask what I was thinking. I knew she was reading closely. I counted maybe twenty five or thirty five vuelen here. I thought: Is this all?

Eloe said, “this cannot be all there is. Circle farther. There must be more.”

I lifted and circled another horizon. We saw nothing beyond the camp. We could see the first haciendas in the coastal hills. I continued the circle to go behind the original horde vuelen we saw earlier. The circle brought us to the road behind the original location. On the horizon I could see a wagon so I zoomed in to see how many vuelen were with that wagon. I stared into the viewer. There were no vuelen following that wagon at all. It did look familiar, though. I banked toward it. The viewer showed four vuelans in the wagon. Were these settlers? In this area? I knew Eloe was reading me. She was adding nothing. We continued until I recognized Renzt. My thought now asked: Didn’t we hear?

Eloe finished the thought, “that must be Era, the vuelessa Era, with him. I don’t have a clue about the others.”

We approached the wagon. Can you?

She said, “I’ll try to connect in thought with her.”

In a moment I floated slowly above the wagon. Era looked up, searching over her head for us. She held a weapon ready as she turned on the bench and held her hands out to calm the vuela and vuelo in the bed of the wagon. Renzt pulled the zebry to a halt. I landed the transport.

Eloe said, “I’ve told them we will appear from nowhere and we are fifty lengths behind them.”

I could see Era saying not to shoot at anything and be calm. I didn’t trust this situation. I cracked open the hatch door and yelled, “Renzt! Era! It is me, Kregt, with Eloe! We are going to appear from where you hear my voice.” I poked my head out of the door and waved.

The four of them relaxed. I stepped out and Eloe followed, holding my hand.

Renzt jumped down from the wagon and walked toward us. He called, “now you’re showing off! Where did you get that thing and I want one too!” Renzt stopped as Era called to him to ask if I was Kregt, the Cadizan. He said, “yes! Come meet Kregt and Eloe!”

Era climbed down gracefully from the wagon, motioning the other two vuelans to come with her. She walked to an open place next to Renzt and went to her knees. She put her weapon on the ground by her side and put her face to the ground. Eloe and I stood and watched. This was vuel. The ritual of the vuelessa was to be respected. Her ves fell away as Era placed one foot in front of herself in a fluid motion that continued while her body lifted and her hands stroked along her outer thighs and paused at her hips before continuing along her rib cage to pause slightly under her breasts before spreading out. Her face lifted and she momentarily said nothing. I saw her that eyes were wet. She blinked a couple of times, and said, “I will serve you!”

My thought to Eloe was: I think she means it!

She whispered, “she certainly does.”

Renzt picked up Era’s ves for her. He said, “we were ready to stop for the dim. Will you join us?”

“Give me your kindness for a moment.” I stepped back inside the transport and took one of the weapons and a bundle of ammunition. Outside, I said, “we cannot stay here. We must take weapons like this one to the force from Centium that is on it’s way to the villages of the coastal hills. They have nothing like this. They only have some old spin weapons and their kuchirs.”

I realized what I was dealing with when Era spoke up, saying, “that would be a fair fight and the hordes do not deserve to have a fair fight. The hordes only deserve to be killed.”

Eloe, I am going to say something. Be kind to tell me if I am correct. “Era, are you accurate with your spin weapon?”

Renzt answered for her. “She is.” He used the English phrase, “dead accurate.”

Eloe read what was in Era’s memory, touched my arm and said to Era, “we have a weapon you will want to use.”

I put the S model in Era’s hands. I said, “this weapon is the S model of the Seven Twelve. It is more powerful. It is also on loan. If it is not returned I will owe Pagalund nine clear crystals.” I then handed her the new dart ammunition, saying, “this ammunition is more accurate than any other. It is also more deadly.” I didn’t have to read any thought to see the determination in her eyes. Era wanted to kill the hordes. She wanted to kill them all.

Renzt spoke, “Era has extraordinary aim. The weapon, in her hands, will never miss a target.”

“There is a horde group one horizon ahead of you on this road. They have ten or fifteen vuelen. Some of the vuelen are injured. They may be trying to reach a large horde encampment that is two to three horizons further away on the road. The camp is off to the rechan a few hundred lengths. We must tell you something about that encampment, though.”

Renzt asked, “you have seen it? Did you float over it in, what ever that is you are traveling in?”

I turned to look, at nothing. There was some grasses depressed where the transport was sitting. “It is a transport. The Resjed gave it to us to use. It is mostly invisible, though we can tell where it is by looking at where we see a blur. Anyone else will ignore the blurry place in their vision. Oh, and the door unlatches when we walk up to it. That feature is helpful.”

Renzt asked, “where can I get one of those?”

They understood that we had to meet the force from Centium before the dim. I checked with Eloe before we departed. She had sent all our data to Era. I lifted and asked with thought: Where,

Eloe said, “the Centium force has wagons, carts and zebry. They would have taken a barge to the swamp port at the Braza and should be along this road, on the other side of the valley, coming this direction. We can take a heading twenty five degrees from nor to meet this road on the far side of the valley.” She looked at the instruments in the transport and realized I was not turning, but following the road.

That’s right. She nodded her agreement to follow the road in this circumstance.

The encampment of the Centium force appeared on a rise above the valley’s nor side. This location gave the force a view of the valley. Eloe had been receiving and sending information during our float above the road. She said to me, “Dekt has cleared a place within the camp for us to land. There will be an open area with a flag at the edge of it. We should see the vuelessa Othaya by the flag. Othaya only serves Dekt during this campaign. She will not present herself to us. She has become close to Exerva over the past rotations and is anxious to meet you!” She read my thought. “I’m sure that she is anxious to meet me also.”

I slowed our speed while lifting up the rising side of the valley. I pointed in the viewer to an open place that had a flag by it and thought: Is that the place? Is that Othaya?

Eloe took a moment, saying, “yes, she is wearing a red ves. I am telling her to clear the area so that we do not sit down on someone’s head.”

We lowered slowly and watched Othaya stare at the grass being pressed flat.

Eloe said, “Othaya is amazed that she can see nothing but the grass flattened. She is calling to Dekt that we have arrived.”

We opened the hatch door and stepped onto the ground in front of Othaya, who only lowered her head to us and said, “Bienva!” Then she came to us and put her arms around both of us, telling us, “I give Sola kindness for bringing you both to us from Earth.”

I asked, “saying such a thing is alright to speak of now? What has taken place?”

Othaya looked at Eloe and me as if she knew a secret. She said, “the Vuelessa of Centium has told all Vuelans the truth! Now we can speak the truths that we already knew.”

Dekt called out from behind us, “not all of us knew everything.”

I turned and offered my palm to him, “you knew more than most, I suspect. It is great to see you again, Dekt. I ask your kindness, it is Commander Dekt, is that correct?”

Dekt was carefully extending his arm to feel for the transport. He touched it, then he slapped the side. A deep blue blotch of color with a white ring appeared. Dekt stepped back quickly, looked at me with a surprised expression, saying, “I did not hurt it, did I?”

“I think it’s alright. We have bumped into a couple of things with it already.”

Dekt said with authority, “Come to my tienda. You both need of a chalice or two of vinho.”

“You are kind Dekt. First, we have some weapons you will want to see.”

Dekt called to his lieutenants, “Tsilmin, Gupard, assist us.”

I stepped back toward the transport and the hatch door opened for me. I went in the door and picked up the bundle of spin weapons and the sacks of ammunition. Pagalund had given me a sack of the new rifled ammunition and I purchased four sacks of standard ammunition. I handed everything off to the lieutenants, except for the sack of rifled ammunition. “I must carry this one.” I explained to them.

Dekt studied the bundle and the sacks his lieutenants were carrying and said, “lo Kregt, I am glad you are on my side in this conflict.”

The tienda that was the headquarters for this expedition was spacious and well furnished inside. There was a curtain on one wall that probably cloaked Dekt’s personal and sleeping area. I put the sack of rifled ammunition on the table in the room. While the lieutenants unbound the weapons, Dekt asked me, “are these the advanced weapons I have heard of?”

“Yes. That is not all, though.”

Dekt spoke to Tsilmin and Gupard, “stay, vuelen. We are going to learn something this brightness.” He motioned to me, saying to them, “this is the vuelo that flew the transport over Centium to set fire to the railway on the plaza.”

I was surprised to hear this from Dekt. “Is that public knowledge now?”

Dekt laughed, saying, “it is public, though the Vuelessa of Centium has not ever given your name while telling the story.” He looked at his lieutenants, “be kind to not use the name, vuelen.”

Chalices of vinho were brought and we sat in the chairs. Eloe and Othaya sat back on their legs on the ground with us. The lieutenant, Tsilmin, picked up one of the new weapons and said, “lo Kregt, be kind to agree with me that this weapon is heavier than the spin weapons we currently have.”

I took a sip of my vinho and checked with Eloe. She nodded that she had shared all details of the seven twelve weapons with Othaya. “Yes. These weapons are heavier. These are the seven twelve models. The weight is in the more powerful winding mechanism. They trigger seven darts with twice the lethal range as the spin weapons you have used before. A partial wind will trigger five more darts with lethal force at a longer range.” I paused while the three vuelen absorbed what I had said.

Dekt looked at me with an expression that asked, what else? I smiled and opened the sack of darts I held. I took out three of the darts and said, “each of you, take one of these darts.”

They did and immediately noticed the spiral lines. They compared the darts. Gupard said, “these lines, there is one line that circles the dart many times. What does this mean?”

“The lines are spirals. The spiral grooves cause the darts to spin, or rifle, through the air.”

Dekt shook his head, not understanding, though I could tell he had a good idea what I described. I told them, “those words may be new to you. Spiral means to circle with one line. Rifle means that an object spins in flight. These spiral darts will fly more accurately and be lethal at an even greater distance than usual dart ammunition.”

Dekt and his lieutenants smiled. They then smiled at each other more broadly. Then they laughed and slapped each other on each others backs. Tsilmin said to Dekt, “you told us that the Vuelessa of Centium would send us a weapon from the gods and the Vuelessa of Centium has sent us a weapon from the gods!”

“This weapon is not from the gods. It was designed and built by Pagalund. Eloe and I were taken to live with the Resjed for three sixes not long ago and the Resjed assured me that they had nothing to do with the development of these weapons.”

Dekt and his lieutenants gave me a stare. I said, “I would not have been able to deliver these to you without that magical transport out there that you cannot see. So, you can give credit to the Resjed for that.” The vuelen took my explanation as proof that the gods were instrumental. I added, “the knowledge that we were given while we were among the Resjed will transform vuel. We will give this knowledge to any vuelan that wants it and all they have to do is ask us for it.”

Dekt took charge, “we are grateful to Sola for your efforts, Kregt and Eloe.”

We nodded for their gratitude. Eloe said, “there is something you should know about the horde you seek.” She garnered their full attention and said, “they are now a force of mostly vuelas and older kids. The vuelen in the horde number only twenty five to thirty five.”

I looked at the vuelessa Othaya. Her expression was troubled. She would not want the vuelas and kids killed as if they were criminals.

Dekt was in disbelief and asked, “how is that possible?”

I sent my thought to Eloe asking her to explain this. She told them, “There is a clearing to the sur of this area in which a large transport from the stars fell and was destroyed in the fields of Vul. The wreckage is horribly poisonous. Every animal or vuelan that enters the clearing is killed. The hordes travel in straight lines and entered the clearing unaware of the poisons. Their numbers have been decimated by those poisons.”

Dekt and his lieutenants checked with each other and with Othaya. Othaya nodded and told the vuelen, “I have read this in their memories and it is so.”

Eloe added, “beware. Do not enter any clearing if trees and plants are stunted and weak, or you see dead animals and do not see birds in the sky.”

“There is another reason that the hordes are diminished. She is a vuelessa named Era.”

Othaya spoke up, “I have read some the thought streams from Era and have been in disbelief. Eloe has now confirmed the veracity of those streams.”

Eloe offered detail, “Era was in a village that was overrun by the hordes and all the vuelans and their kids were murdered or enslaved. She witnessed horrifying occurrences. She herself was enslaved but was able to secure her release. She joined with a vuelo that hauls cargo and they have recruited another vuelo and vuela that were also displaced by the hordes. The four of them may reduce the horde some more before your force is able to engage them.”

Dekt shook his head at this. He said, “your friend, Brand, has told me many stories of wars in the history of the faraway lands that were won or lost by nonsensical occurrences. The gods seem to be giving us this victory.”

Othaya said to Dekt, “the God of Sola, my Dekt.”

Eloe and I were finishing the vinho and I knew we should leave soon. I said to Dekt, “The weapons are only on loan to the forces of Centium. They must be returned to Pagalund.”

Dekt asked with surprise, “we cannot buy them from him?”

I smiled, “his price for these weapons is an amber crystal if they are not returned.”

Dekt and his lieutenants were amazed at this price. They now perceived the weapons differently.

I rose to leave and said to them, while they remained in silence, “now you know that the weapons could not have come from the gods.”

Dekt wondered at my meaning,

“The gods would not have asked for as much deen for them as Pagalund has asked!”

Loee .7

I lead the armada

This story is told by Loee

I heard what Cabezan said. I did not believe that it meant what it meant. The next brightness, I was paraded through the lanes of Puerto Lavaka to the wharves. My wrists, once again, were crossed over my head and bound to a pole that held me on my toes. This was a posture to which I was going to become accustomed. Vuelans along the lanes of Puerto Lavaka called “AH”, as the wagon carried me along the lane.

The vuelans called as I passed, “the wild stream is going to the lead prow!” There was energy in the lanes of this port village. More than one vuelo attempted to climb upon the wagon I was suspended on as we rolled along. These vuelen remained drunk on the free flowing vinho from the previous dim’s fest. A vuelo riding on the wagon with me would poke them away with a pole.

I called out to those who were beaten away from my wagon, “I wanted you to reach me, lo vuelo!” I was the cause of their misery. In vuel, seeing a naked vuela is common. Seeing a vuelessa, suspended so that her breasts were held at their most enchanting posture, would be more than many vuelen would be able to resist.

Closer to the wharves I began to see marujos that were walking toward the ships at the docks. Many of these marujos would call out to me as I rolled by them, “Wild stream! I will be on your ship!” “Wild stream! My ship will keep you in sight!” “I am sailing with you wild stream.”

Ua Exerva told me I would understand. The masts of the ships were visible now above the shops along the lane. She was being kind by withholding some detail. The wagon carrying me turned onto the lane that would run along the docks. Four larger ships were tied up, facing the bay and out to the mar. Among these four, one had a large high prow rising from the bow. Yes, Ua Exerva, I understand it all now.

Ua Exerva answered me clearly now with her thought stream: You are the vuelessa Loee. You are primed to lead the sailing horde and you will lead them to their destruction.

My wagon was driven up to a staging area. Crates of food were being carried by vuelen across narrow planks to the ships. Barrels spilled water as they were tipped over to be rolled over the gangplanks to the deck. Vuelen had to eat and drink. I wondered if there were any barrels of vinho. I studied the ships. There were no cannons evident on these ships. Black powder is unknown in vuel, as well as steel to forge a cannon. In my basic knowledge of vuel I was aware of resins used in buildings that had the strength of steel. I wondered if those resins were used to build ships. These ships would be sailing the mar, so they would have to be strong. Staring at the ships made me realize that, compared to ocean going ships on Earth, these ships were small. I had seen the historical sailing ships on Earth called caravels and these looked similar. I supposed these ships were able to sail the mar. Caravels were used by Christopher Columbus on Earth.

I had been fed and watered with first brightness. They wanted me to be vital. I looked to the rise of the prow of the biggest ship. It rose above the deck. Was I going to be corded to that? Would I face the deck or would I face the mar? A large vuelo on the deck of the large ship yelled orders to the vuelen loading the supplies.

I read that this was the captain. Captain Delmar. His voice boomed across the wharf calling out, “you are acting like drunken serving vuelas! Get moving before I will come down there with my lash!”

The activity on the docks increased. I heard a voice call, “get the vuela on the ship, now!” A vuelo jumped up on the wagon in front of me. He put his arm around my waist, reached up and released the cord on my wrists from the pole. As I lowered my arms he put his shoulder into my waist, grabbing me around my thighs. I was thrown over his shoulder as he stood up. A shriek come from my mouth as he jumped down from the wagon with me. I grabbed his belt behind his back to steady myself, expecting the vuelo to put me down on something to be carried onto the ship.

I was not put down. The marujo carried me, rear end first, to the edge of the dock and, without hesitation, onto the narrow gangplank. I heard a loud gasp come from a vuela that was probably me. I was being carried over the vuelo’s shoulder, up the gangplank, looking down at the water in the harbor many lengths down. I reacted by spreading my legs as if I controlled my balance. The vuelo carrying me laughed at my effort. A marujo called the the vuelo carrying me, “Grendt! You know how to carry a cauda dividida!”

The vuelo carrying me also laughed and called back to his fellow, “it is a gift from Sola!”

I had not heard the term cauda dividida, used for before. My reading for the meaning was split tail. I read from these marujos that split tail was not meant as a derogatory term but a description of vuela anatomy. Being carried aboard the ship tail first, I could not blame them for using the term. I was carried forward on the ship and gently put down on the forecastle deck. I put my hands on Grendt’s waist, looked up at him to say, “you are kind, lo Grendt.”

Grendt smiled at me. He was surprised that I had spoken to him and especially that I spoke of his kindness to me. He paused for a moment, assessing me. Then he nodded to me and turned to leave.

“Lo Grendt! Be kind to free my wrists.”

Grendt paused. He thought about my request. He wanted to be kind to me.

I said to him while he loosened the knot, “may Sola watch over you for your kindness.”

I propped myself up against the rail wall at the bow. The crew was busy with loading and checking the lines and the sails and other maintenance that I was not familiar with. Sola was warming me through the clouds. I began to doze, having not slept well over the dim. I read thoughts that came to my consciousness, though they were random, the subjects were important. The name of this ship is the Tiburo. A tiburo is a shark. The crew believes that sharks escort this ship and that a shark escort means good fortune.

A thought stream came that was about me. I wondered why a dream was interfering with my thought streams. I read that this thought was from Captain Delmar at that instant his voice jolted me awake. He was on the forecastle deck with me. His voice boomed, “you will be the first vuelessa to grace my prow.”

I scrambled to put my face to the deck and rose as correctly as I could. I didn’t know if I would be given the time to present myself. The captain was impatient, yet he was pausing to assess me carefully. I spread my palms as I met his eyes and said, “I will serve you, Captain.”

The vuelo in the Captain considered me for a moment. I read his full meaning for his words, put on my prow. He nodded and said, “yes, wild stream, you will.” He turned with purpose and commanded, “throw off the lines! Give the call to push away! Raise the mizzen and the jibs! First mate to the roda do navio!”

The activity exploded on the Tiburo. Marujos called orders back to Captain Delmar. Shouts went from the rails to the docks and dock vuelen scrambled to release the lines. Sails were pulled up the masts though they caught no wind. A sailor took hold of the large ship’s wheel that I read to be the roda do navio. I turned to the dock to see that we were moving slightly.

It was the tide. High tide had passed and the Tiburo would be pulled out to the mar with the receding tide. The docks pointed into the bay for this purpose. Large ships such as this one could be pulled out of the bay with only the movement of the tides.

Captain Delmar called, “prepare the parafuso!”

Several marujos picked up a long pole with a crank device at the end. The other end was square and the vuelen pushed it into a fitting at the base of the stern castle. This was a simple propulsion system that would provide enough thrust to move the Tiburo at minimum speed. They looked to the Captain for his order. Captain Delmar called to the marujos at the crank, “rotate the parafuso!” A loud chorus of AH’s were called out by the marujos

The marujos were not cheering the propulsion system. Captain Delmar motioned for me to come to him. I could read his intent and stepped quickly to obey. He grabbed me to pull me to him and was surprised that I anticipated his movement and aided my capture. I saw in his eye that he intended to bess me. I told told him with my expression that his bess was desired. He loosened his grasp as I put my arms around his neck and bessed him passionately. I told him with my lips that I wanted his penetration. He pushed slightly and I released my embrace. I was guided to lean over the railing of the forecastle to face the ship’s crew for my amoriging.

I looked at the marujos and tossed my head at them and smiled. I was going to be amoriged by their captain and I was going to make him enjoy me.

Captain Delmar paused. I wondered if I was over playing my role. Then I felt his fingers touch me at my vagina. Yes. He found me wet and ready. I read that he was holding up his fingers to the crew. Another round of AH’s was called by the marujos I read that Captain Delmar was preparing to penetrate me and I grasped the railing to steady myself. The marujos watched my face now, awaiting my reaction. I felt the captain spread my vagina and his penis begin it’s thrust. I waited to react when I could read Captain Delmar was at full thrust. He pushed in shallowly and pulled back. The next thrust would be full depth. I softened to accept his full thrust as it penetrated me. I lifted my face to the crew and called out my own, long, “AH!”

The marujos were in amor with my reaction to being amoriged. They cheered for their captain and they also cheered for me. I flexed around Captain Delmar during a thrust and read his near climax. I tightened on the next push and a roar came from deep within him. I lifted my head to Sola and called “AAAAAAAH!”

Marujos called, “wild stream!” The wild stream!” “The vuela is a wild stream.” Several of them clamored up to the forecastle deck now. The calls of wild stream! from around the ship continued while I was taken to the prow.

Grendt was one of the marujos taking hold of me and was in charge of binding my wrists. He circled the cords four times and said to me, “this knot will hold your wrists up. You can grasp this loop and pull to relieve the stress on your wrists.” Then he leaned close and whispered, “we will not leave you on the prow for too long, wild stream.” Then he said in full voice, “we are going to lift you up in the rigging to exhibit you to the fleet. Then we will bring you down to put you on the prow. Grab the loops and hold on!”

I grabbed the loop and accelerated into the air. Adrenaline rushed through me as the entire harbor came into view. AHs went up from the crews of the ships waiting to shove off from their docks. I heard the calls of “wild stream!” “the wild stream” from the other ships. I swung back and forth at first and then began to rotate in a circle. I was slowly lifted to the height of the upper booms where my circling became tight and then slowed to a stop. From this height I saw the harbor and the coastal plain of Puerto Lavaka. The line I was tied to had twisted many times and now began to unwind. I spread my legs to slow my spin. This brought more AHs from the marujos below me. The line began to lower me so I flexed my knee to try to appear more elegant.

On the forecastle deck Grendt met me with another marujo, Tsarlon, who said to me, “you have made an entire ship’s crew amorous for you, wild stream.”

I smiled at Tsarlon, “you are marujos, you are amorous for any vuela!”

Grendt held a loop by my feet, “step into this loop, wild stream. When we pull you into position on the prow, there is a boot that you put your feet into. This knot will then come loose and we will pull it away. You will always be held with your arms.”

He grasped the loops for my hands, saying, “hold on to these loops. We are going to swing you out and pull you into the prow.”

I said to both of the marujos, “you are kind to a vuela.”

They winked at each other. Tsarlon said, “you are no vuela. You are the wild stream. The entire fleet sails with you.”

My line lifted me and I was swung forward and felt Tsarlon’s hands catch me from behind. I felt for the boot to put my feet into and found it. The boot was like stepping into a large comfortable boot that held both of my feet. I stood up, which slackened my weight for the loops on my wrists. I called to the marujos, “I have it! You are kind to assist me.”

Grendt said, “there will always be three or four lookouts that can see you, wild stream. If you are in distress, we will be called to come for you.”

I turned as far as I could to see them walking away. I called again, “you are kind!” I looked down at the water. My perch was not that far above the water. Three heights above the surface of the mar was my guess. I looked up behind to my rechand. A marujo high up waved to me. I turned to my venan and looked up. Another marujo about midway up on the sail rigging waved to me. I was reading that I was an important symbol for the crew. A desirable vuela on the prow of their ship was important to them. Again I thought to myself: What a strange and wonderful world Vul is. My purpose in vuel was far more important than any purpose my life on Earth would have. Here in vuel I am naked, corded to the prow of a corsair ship and I am leading an armada!

The Tiburo began to catch some wind and I heard the ships bow cut through the water. Small splashes were thrown to either side of the point of the bow. We began to clear the bay. Up ahead a bluff extended itself into the mar. Sola was higher now and glistened off the mar ahead. I thought to myself: Vul can be so beautiful. A gust of true wind caught my hair, refreshing me. On the port side a fishing boat was under sail, returning with an early brightness catch. On the brightness side, fishermen along the shore threw their nets into the surf along the shore of the bluff.

Ahead at the point of the bluff a lone figure stood. Whoever this was, I read that they were interested in this ship. The thought stream clarified. This was a vuela and she was watching the fleet sail away. Her thoughts were rich with memories. The Tiburo continued toward the open mar. I tried to read the vuela’s name: Ukaya! That is Ukaya on the point watching us sail away!

Ukaya was the maiden of Cabezan’s hold that struck me across my buttocks with such fury that I was unable to breathe. She was also the vuela that applied colored oils to my face so that I would present well at the fest. She stood alone on the point of the bluff, watching us. I wondered why Ukaya was thinking the thought I read, but her thought was clear: You are sailing away from me forever my marujos. You will not return from this voyage.

The ventos tranquilas slowed the armada for several brightnesses. I was unable to read the stars so I was not sure how far we were traveling each brightness. From my reading of the thoughts of the marujos we were not moving much, if at all. The Tiburo and another ship, the Espadarte, were equipped with the huge screws operated by the marujos. There were five other ships that were smaller. These smaller ships were moving ahead of the the Tiburo and the Espadarte in the light and variable winds.

Captain Delmar brought me onto the main deck and called the crew together. He motioned for me to kneel next to him. A vuelessa does not kneel. I would do more than kneel. I put my face to the deck and lifted. I planted my foot in front and stopped with my hands at my waist. I looked up at him, opening my mouth and licking my upper lip. I read that Captain Delmar wanted to put me over a rail and amorig me before his crew again as he did before. He did not, though. He had another purpose for me. He called to the crew, “vuelen of the mar! The Tiburo must lead this armada and we cannot lead from behind! We must use the parafuso for our forward movement.” The captain continued, “this is work that must be powered by our strongest vuelen. Marujos who have the strength of the gods!” Captain Delmar described an incentive. He motioned to me and said, “the gods have given us this wild stream. Amorig with the wild stream is knowing how the gods amorig with their goddesses.”

The marujos looked up to the sky and at each other. My reading was that they were amazed that their captain had made such a comparison. The crew had been witness to his reaction when he climaxed in me, so they were willing to believe him.

Captain Delmar continued, “the wild stream desires to amorig with a strong marujo.”

I read that he was about to demonstrate how easily I was aroused.

He called the primo marujo, “Pekelt!, come and touch this wild stream and then hold up your moist fingers to confirm her desire for the crew!”

My mind spun forward. Pekelt stepped toward me. Rather than waiting, I jumped up to embrace him. Finding his lips, I bessed him firmly. He was completely surprised but recovered to return my embrace. Ahs were called by the marujos I held my bess long enough to assure my arousal, then released slightly to say quietly into his ear, “touch me now!”

Sola was kind. Pekelt pushed his finger between my folds, finding adequate moisture. He held up his fingers, calling out, “the wild stream flows!”

The desire for me that I read from the marujos at that moment was intense. The only reason I was not amoriged by them all, immediately by force, was their regard for Captain Delmar.

The captain made an offer, “any marujo with the ability to move the Tiburo one length of the mar will amorig with the wild stream!”

Lengths of the mar were measured by the marinavio, who kept careful track. The Tiburo gradually moved ahead of the smaller ships and left the Espadarte at the back of the armada. Most of the forty three marujos joined in pairs to push the Tiburo two lengths in order to qualify to amorig with the wild stream.

For my reputation as a vuelessa, I assured myself that every qualifying marujo experienced having amorig with a goddess. This was the promise of the Captain, though it was my responsibility to create. I was grateful to Sola that these were marujos and were easy to amaze. I bessed each one of the marujos, telling them that they had made me feel that I was a goddess. I told them all that I would dream of them and anticipate feeling their penetration again some future brightness.

Two brightnesses later, some of the marujos on the main deck called to me, “wild stream! You said the same thing to us all! Did we all mean the same to you?”

I ran to them and put my face to the deck in front of them. I presented myself to them and said, “I said the same thing to each of you because I amor every one of you!” Then, I called each of their names, saying, “I amor you, Tsarlon. I amor you, Dupink. I amor you,”

The marujos agreed with each other that I could be telling the truth. This was a relief for me because I was telling them the truth. I said to them, “my marujos, I am a vuelessa. It is in vuel that I truly amor all of you.”

Now the marujo’s opinion improved. Reading each marujo’s thought told me that he was sure that I amored him. It was true. I did amor each of them.

Bon ventos returned and we sailed toward the Great Bay. The Tiburo crew was joined by horde vuelen numbering about thirty five to forty. I had learned this by paying attention to the conversations during the voyage. The horde vuelen seldom came up to the main deck and when they did it was to expel the contents of their gut into the mar. The horde vuelen were not marujos. Most of them had never been on a boat of any sort. I supposed that this was why Cabezan was not on this voyage.

The marujos of the Tiburo were corsairs, only. They did not invade ports. Some of the Tiburo corsairs, however, were planning to join with the horde vuelen to invade the Great Bay villages.

This dim, when I was removed from the prow to be fed and put in my bunk, I noticed many of the horde vuelen on the main deck. I could read from Captain Delmar that the marinavio had told him we would reach the bluffs leading to the Great Bay in the next brightness. I streamed my thought to Ua Exerva: Ua Exerva, the Tiburo will lead the armada within a horizon of the bluffs next brightness. Ua Exerva, I will be on the prow of the lead ship that crosses within a horizon of the bluffs of the Great Bay villages. We are seven ships with over two hundred vuelen.

I ate my bowl of pellets and water slowly this dim, waiting to hear or read anything from the marujos The village of Puerto Real was being discussed. There was mention of the villages of Bahia and Setuba. I gathered that Puerto Real is the largest village in the Great Bay. It is on the other side of the bluffs that create the Great Bay and the horde could be close to the village before the vuelans there would know they were being attacked.

I repeated my thought stream, “Ua Exerva, the Tiburo will lead the armada to within a horizon of the bluffs in the next brightness. Ua Exerva, I will be on the prow of the lead ship that sails within a horizon of the bluffs of the Great Bay villages. The armada is seven ships with over two hundred vuelen.”

Her answer came through clearly in a thought stream: I have read your thought stream! I have sent it to Aeia and to Hetha. We are amazed at your bravery. We all are grateful to Sola to read your thoughts. We understand that you will be on the lead ship. Be kind to tell us if you are moved to another ship.

I looked at my bowl. I drank the remainder of the residue from the pellets and water. I stared into the bowl. Ua Exerva did not tell me what was going to happen, and yet she did tell me.

On the main deck there were excited voices. The horde vuelen were hearing that we were close to the Great Bay. They were anxious to attack the villages there. Their plan was to attack Puerto Real. They knew that the villages of the Great Bay would expect them to attack smaller villages first. The Tiburo will sail toward the village of Setuba to establish this ploy while the Espadarte and the five smaller ships sail on to attack Puerto Real.

I stared into my food dish thinking that the plans of the horde made no difference to the vuelans of the Great Bay. The vuelans of the Great Bay villages were planning the complete destruction of the ships of the armada. The ships of the armada would never land their hordes at all. I stared at my dish, beginning to realize what might be planned once the armada was in sight. I was not vuelan. I knew Earth history. I knew of battleships that could send bombs over the horizon. I have seen video of missiles hitting their target from hundreds of Earth miles away. The vuelans of the Great Bay probably had built rudimentary forms of such weapons ready to use against the armada.

Tsarlon’s voice shook me, “the prow vuela must climb into her bunk and sleep now. She must be alert and vital on the prow next brightness!”

I looked at Tsarlon and said, “yes. You are kind to me, lo Tsarlon.”

Tsarlon was about to ask me what was wrong when someone called him. He closed me within the large locker which served as my bunk compartment on the forecastle deck. I sent more thought to Ua Exerva: I have detail of the attack plan. I can give some detail of the attack. I waited this time. I was sure she was reading my thought, and disseminating it to others.

Momentarily, I read that several vuelessas were anticipating my data. I opened my consciousness to them: Read what I have learned, my vuelas. Their plan is to attack Puerto Real. They know that the villages of the Great Bay will expect them to attack smaller villages first. My ship, the lead ship, will sail toward Setuba in order to establish this ploy while six other ships sail on to Puerto Real.

Their answers came to me: You are kind and you are brave, vuelessa Loee. We implore the God of Sola to watch over you. Stay on your ship. Stay on your lead ship. Our plans will spare you and your ship.

Ua Exerva sent a separate thought to me: Loee, you are a caring vuelessa. You are vuel. Remember that vuelen will kill for pride and greed. Do not try to interfere.

I tried to sleep, though now it was impossible. The brightness to come would be long and difficult. Ua had reminded me of a human truth about pride and greed. I heard loud voices outside my locker telling each other of their plans. Pride and greed would be demonstrated, unless they never reached the shore. I tried to sleep.

On the prow I was aware of the true wind. Sola was three periods up when the Tiburo tacked back to the brightness to run past the high bluff toward toward the village of Setuba. The bluff was indeed high. We approached it a few degrees from straight on. This course would take us quickly to Setuba while the other ships held a course that took them fifteen degrees to the nor and straight into Puerto Real.

This plan was not discussed with the other ships. This plan had been decided before any of the captains left Puerto Lavaka. The ships came together at first Sola and when the Tiburo made it’s turn we could hear the bells and calls from the other ships. The horde would reach Puerto Real and attack this brightness. My consciousness was open for all of this. I read the greed from the horde vuelen on the Tiburo. I read the plans for crossing in front of the high bluff with the fleet far off to the venan of the Tiburo. My thought asked: Are you reading this my vuelessas?

Several replies came to me: Every thought is clear, Loee. Each and every thought is clear.

I felt the true wind blowing across the prow from the dim horizon toward the bluff. I watched as we came even with the peak of the bluff. High at the top of the bluff there was activity. It was not in sight and I could not read any detail of what was occurring, only that there was intense activity.

I stared forward as we sailed into the Great Bay. The bay was beautiful. The mar here was dark blue to light blue to aqua to light aqua. Fish, some of them large, swam by under my feet. The water became lighter in color and I had no idea of the depth and no idea how deep the fish swam underneath me. A large shadow came through the bay swimming away from shore. The whale breached only a ships length ahead of me. I turned to look up at the marujo on one of the high booms. He pointed to the whale and laughed. I must have looked upset. I waved my hand at him. He was one of the marujos that watched me while I was on the prow. I looked out to the mar in front of me, thinking: Vul can be fantastically beautiful.

My attention was taken by thoughts of joy at the instant that my eye caught a movement in the sky above me to my rechand. Several thin missiles flew over my ship. They had come from the direction of the bluff. I looked at the bluff. Nothing was evident up there. Whoever sent those missiles were not showing themselves. I looked behind myself to the lookout on the high rigging. He was tracking the flight of the missiles. More thin missiles came flying over our ship.

Then I read thoughts that the missiles were hitting their targets. Yelling came from the lookouts high up in the rigging. I looked to my venand. I could see a couple of the sails from the smaller ships and the larger sails of the Espadarte. Those sails showed no distress if the ships were hit by the missiles. I wondered: Were the missiles only large spears?

More of the long thin missiles flew overhead. The yelling from the lookouts had stopped. The maruj