In the silence of his room Quil sat, meditating, questing for his connection to the Locus. In his months aboard the Vanguard he had wished for this respite from the lingering presence at the corners of his mind – but now he wanted it more than life itself. He guessed that the graviton wash from the Plasmoids had thoroughly disabled the ship, and likely to the point that no word could be gotten to Starmada Command or the Space Condominium in time. He’d felt that wash in other encounters with the Plasmoids, but he hadn’t realized that it could have such an effect on the Starmada systems. It was merely a minor annoyance to the Queliqot systems, the bioengineered, living ships having developed their own shielding as they’d evolved over the millennia of voyaging the stars.
Stranded as the Vanguard was, Quil knew that he could serve as a connection to the outside world while Jimmy and the others fought to restore the ship to rights. If he could regain his connection to the Locus he could somehow help, mobilizing the Queliqot to transmit the message across human space. He sat as best he could in the dark, the lack of gravity no great distraction, for he had wedged his limbs into a knot of sorts, channeling his thoughts. The kink of his arms and legs activated pressure points enabling his communication with his adopted species. The freefall sensation, he found, was also helpful, removing all distractions, up and down, right and left. He worked his way through the chord progression, humming the discordant tones of the Queliqot musical scale. His thoughts cleared and his mind focused, activating the center of his brain devoted to the Queliqot.
As his chanting continued, he found that his nervous system began changing, the hormones that had flooded his system began to recede, the systems that made him human began to voluntarily shut down, allowing him to focus on that factor of his DNA that made him one with the Locus.
As if from a dream, the fuzzy logic of the human body cleared away, and the clear monochromatic logic of the Queliqot filled his mind. What had lingered at the fringes now stood before his mind’s eye in splendor, the Locus, the heart of the Queliqot, the All-Mother, the All-Father. At the speed of thought they began conversing, and Quil began with a simple sign of obeisance.
The Locus greeted him in a complex wash of thought, but he knew the overtone of it was, “What news?”
Quil’s humanity appeared unbidden and fought to color the knowledge he knew he must pass to the Locus. With care and patience he put silence to his inner feelings and set about carefully showing his knowledge of the Plasmoids, of their recent attacks against humanity and the Space Condominium. It would not do to color his interaction with the Locus with his human feelings. All members of the Queliqot most carefully screened their thoughts of the native emotions, opting for the stoic and unemotional nature of the Queliqot DNA that they all shared.
His thoughts took on another shade as he began to put forward the expected forward movements of the Plasmoids, and their likely attack for conquest or looting of the Space Condominium. He envisioned the assaults against the Kulofi Confederation, the Sagittarians, the Putties, and every other group in their region of space. When the breadth and depth of the invasion and the ensuing destruction were made fully clear, he silenced his monologue, and listened.
Like a great sponge, The Locus absorbed the information. Quil realized only too late that his human horror of the destruction and death had colored his last thoughts. He knew that such changes to the Locus were far reaching, and often destructive. Some small part of his psyche began to pray, hoping that his error would not imperil them all.
As it had always done, the song of the Locus rolled over Quil’s mind. The bass rumbling of the deepest feelings of protection for the nest rolled to the fore, and the appearance of this threat likely roused every member of the mantisoid Qisq caste to clattering, impotent rage in every world ship and planet. It was necessary. The unrest of the Qisq would help the other castes to prepare.
With the passing of the deeper sentiments, the baritone sensation of planning and preparing for the future became stronger, but passed quickly in the tenor and alto of question, discussion, point, and counterpoint. From all these rumblings came the Soprano of the Locus’s overarching question and thought, and on this high wave came the clear thoughts, the groanings of the Locus that could only be translated into human terms as dissatisfaction and frustration. The Queliqot, for all misunderstandings, were a noble race and not unwilling to help those other races of the universe around them. The Locus bemoaned the limitations of their sublight travel, wishing to follow the Plasmoids.
As a meteor in a clear night sky, the thought of his humanity came to the fore, and the Locus seized on it. For all of Quil’s travels through Transit, it would seem that the Locus had not lost its connection to him, and the feared disconnection from the mental source of the Queliqot was no longer a reality. Each human, it seemed, shared some supernal connection that remained in force, even during the rigors of transit. While it was limited, and delayed by the speed of the travel, the connection remained. The humans of the suq caste, it would seem, should rise beyond their current status of potential ambassadors, and serve a higher role within the community, becoming Viceroys of the Locus. With this newly discovered ability, the Queliqot could bring their aid to bear, and with the vast power capacity of the world ships, it would be a simple adjustment of the outputs to enable the ships to transit together.
Quil marveled at the plan that the Locus shared with him. His senses reeled, but he quickly grasped the flow of thought, and rode it like a surfer. It was a matter of time for the Queliqot to make the transition of their engines, and a more careful effort to distribute the suq caste among the many ships, but within short order, the Queliqot would be transiting to the aid of the Space Condominium and humanity.
In an instant that left Quil queasy and nearly blind with the momentary pain, the Locus cut him loose, with a final instruction, to tell the Vanguard Queen-mother of this plan. Quil fought the nausea both of the harsh severing and the weightlessness, and began at last to have some control. The air systems began to blow and stopped in a sputter. He launched himself carefully for the door, which he opened with use of the emergency latch. He would make his way to the bridge, using the latent infrared of the ship around him as a guide.
He made sure that the doors to his quarter were closed, and pushed himself forward, along the hallway, intent on discharging his newly acquired duty. If he could do nothing else than this to help the human race, his life would have been well-lived.