Author Topic: Part 29: The Importance of Choice  (Read 6993 times)

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Offline Daen

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Part 29: The Importance of Choice
« on: December 15, 2022, 11:03:29 PM »
Mixing fuel without qars to help wasn't easy, but Char was getting the hang of it. She'd been spoiled by having them around for so long. There were a few present around her roots, but Char resisted the urge to use them. Her bark tensed as she thought about how the others would react when this pampered, softened citizen returned to her people. She'd be the object of ridicule. It would be couched in politeness and courtesy, but it would still be there.

That was the least of her problems, unfortunately. What in the Void was she going to do about Moss? She couldn't just leave him here. The machinery in the area couldn't be removed or disassembled, which meant that eventually the trejuns would notice this place. They'd come here and kill him. She couldn't take him with her either! That would also mean his death. Once again, she railed against herself for coming back for him. He would have been fine if she'd just let him think she was dead!

Regardless, choice was imperative. His corrupt Union might not believe that, but she still did. He had to at least have the choice for himself. "All right. We're ready to go. You can't stay here, but I can drop you off somewhere in the wilderness. Near a waterway. You'll be able to grow roots as deep as you want, in perfect safety."

"Oh, yeah. I'll be safe all right. And completely alone for the rest of my life. How is that any different than excommunication? I'll pass, thanks."

"You'll like the alternative even less," she put some foreboding into the link. "If you come with me the rest of the way, you'll almost certainly die at the end of it. I won't be able to protect you anymore." Even trying to might put her at risk. In fact it probably would.

"What would you do in my place, Char? You've been alone most of your life, or so I thought. For all I know, you're actually a chatty socialite under that disguise of yours. Would you really want to be totally alone, even if it meant you could live another two hundred years or more? Unless you want to tell me exactly how my life will be in danger, I'm choosing to go with you."

"I… can't tell you any more than I already have."

"You haven't told me anything! All I have is guesswork here. Based on that guesswork, I'm coming with you. Understood?"

His roots had barely started to come out, so he couldn't control any of the articulators or the frames. He couldn't compel her to do anything at all. It would have been amusing if he wasn't being so serious. He had zero power in this situation, and yet somehow… he had all of it. A treqar could have left him behind, and a trejun would have just killed him, but she had to honor his wishes.

"I hope you stored enough water and energy, because you might not be allowed to root at our destination," she said brusquely, and got to work hoisting him.

The cart's frame had been adjusted with sliding mechanical limbs which could latch onto an unrooted treqar and pull it up. It also wasn't easy without her letting her qars help, but at least this time she wasn't doing it while surrounded by the bodies of her dead friends. It would have been quite impossible without radios, as well. Aysa had provided the citizens with the gift that kept giving. By sending out those rootless signals, Char was then able to hoist herself up into the bed of the cart, right next to him.

She recorded a quick message, and sent one of her qars to deliver it to him. It was basically just telling him that she had only one radio control, and therefore communication would be limited during the trip. She felt bad about him having to travel in blind silence again, but also grateful that he couldn't talk. He'd just keep asking her questions she couldn't answer.