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“Gossamer threads link us all. Most of these threads twist back and overlap. Each instance of each thread connects us to each other. Some are minor, ignored by the fates. Some are known through out history. Devastating clashes and transcendent loves. Those are the stories that are told through the generations. We all want to hear of a love so profound, or a war so great, they change what it means to be who we are. Those that live in those times, in those instances, they’re unaware of the impact their actions have on us all.”
“Our world is dying. Arrogance and hubris drove our actions – our instances of overlap. If we’d known of the outcome, would we have continued down the same path? Would we have risen to the challenges, or plummeted to our doom?”
Ashe surveyed the arena. Where great sport events had once been the focus, the purpose of the great hall, now salvation was what was on everyone’s mind. The talk of today’s meeting jammed all communication. When Ashe read the faces of the members of the gathered factions, she saw fear these days where she had seen anger and contempt in the past.
Her eyes lingered on the young girl sitting in a section alone. Barrow, she thought. Barrow, they said, was responsible for the destruction of their world and their society. Ashe smiled and regarded the young woman. She held her head high, shoulders back with her long fingers intertwined on the table in front of her.
Ashe looked over her shoulder at the great sphere. The tendrils of blue were there for all to see. The threads that bound them all were so evident. “We must act!” She pounded the lectern and a ripple of shock moved in concentric rings until the entirety of those assembled felt it. Everyone, that was, except Barrow.
Shouts of dissention echoed. An angry murmur just as poignant as the shock flowed back towards Ashe. She felt their anger, their fear. She knew they looked to her to save their people. Again, she looked at Barrow. So calm and serene, she thought. She knew she wouldn’t be able to maintain the same composure Barrow did. But, she thought, I’m not responsible for so many deaths.
She longed to comfort the girl. To squeeze her shoulder and tell her that everything would be fine. In the depths of her psyche, depths that no one, not even she, dared to tread, she admitted that she wished their relationship was more than it was. She wished for the story of she and Barrow to be of an epic love, rather than the growing conflict. How was my thread chosen? She looked back in her mind’s eye and saw all the decisions. All her actions. Each made sense at the time, but…
The cacophony of overlapping voices hurt her ears. The emotions overwhelmed her. She banged on the lectern in an attempt to restore some semblance of order. Her actions were feeble against the tide. She felt as if she were in a small boat, trying to make it to shore. A storm raged around her, but she was unable to affect it in any meaningful way.
She wanted to curl up behind the lectern and hide from her responsibilities. She willed Barrow to look up from some spot on the table that had so garnered her attention. If anyone could affect the tempest, she could.
Barrow looked up at her. Her eyes were an intense blue. If her actions hadn’t made her known, those blue eyes would have. Ashe blinked, her own pale gray eyes conveying a message discernable by only someone who had worked so closely with another for so long. Barrow nodded. It was a slight nod, but once again, an action hewn of so many hours spent together.
Barrow turned in her chair. It was a simple rotation of her slender frame, she looked into the gallery. She looked to no one in particular, but that one action silenced the arena. The echo of voices still hung in the cold air. Ashe had heard the phrase, deafening silence before – she had even used it on occasion while teaching. There is certain knowledge of knowing what a word means and experiencing its meaning first hand. Prior to this moment, this instance, Ashe had never truly known it.
Barrow returned to her former position. She glanced up at Ashe with those eyes of hers. It was cliché to speak about eyes piercing the soul, or being able to see the unseen in one’s heart. It was a good thing these thoughts were only thoughts. She wondered if Barrow could understand her on a level sung about in odes and written about in epics. Barrow looked at the spot on the table that had engrossed her attention for the majority of the proceedings thus far.
The cold elicited a shudder. The arena was so quiet no one seemed to breathe. The only sound encroaching the silence was the wind blowing outside. Finally after a few terse moments, a voice was heard from the arena.
“Get on with it, old bat!”
The anonymous heckler did in one flippant sentence what Ashe couldn’t do: breach the silence. “A system with a main sequence yellow star has been located.”
Whispers echoed off the high domed ceiling. It wasn’t the anger or fear from before, but a hopefulness that washed over her this time. Emboldened by that hope, she continued. “We will build a fleet of ships to take us there.” She thought of banging the lectern to emphasize her point, but decided against it. Instead, she lowered her voice. “We will prevail. The actions of the past will not end us.”
“What of the girl?”
Ashe wasn’t sure it was the same heckler from before, but she knew the question was a valid one. “What of her? Would you act in vengeance and deny us all?”
The arena was silent. A deafening silence.