A register of tokens and gestures exchanged before the end of sisterhood.
“Xi Ro, my brave sister, you have worked too hard to move the carcasses out of the birthing room! Come. Steer the ship for a while. Take joy in what our needle can do.”
Xi Ro tried to protest, but secretly, she was so glad for Aurash’s care. She flew the needle ship in cutting circles, down beneath the sea: and their wake rose up to the surface like a traitor’s dying breath.
“Aurash, lonely navigator, we have traveled so long with only each other. I know you love to hear and speak new tongues. Come, sit in the flesh garden room. I will read you these stories I bought at Kaharn.”
Aurash sat among the mummified flesh fans with two of her eyes closed and listened in silence to Sathona’s stories, hungry to understand, voracious to know as much as she could before her ten year life died.
Later, Xi Ro said, “Sathona, cutting mind of ours, you grow lonely in your thought. Play swords and lanterns with me!”
But Sathona was heavy with sorrow, and couldn’t pretend any joy as she chased Xi Ro through the needle’s glistening halls.
“Sathona, pensive one, what is it? What troubles you?”
Her sisters listened as Sathona said “Oath-bearing siblings, we are five years old. For two years we’ve worked to repair this ancient ship and understand its systems. I am almost too old for the mother jelly, and the knights who killed our father are surely dying of age.
“We three will die here, in exile. Taox will outlive us. And Aurash, brilliant-eyed Aurash, you will die of old age long before you have proof of your God-Wave, or any way to stop it.”
Aurash and Xi Ro looked at each other. “I wish you weren’t so honest,” Xi Ro said. And Aurash thought that Sathona had never been wrong.
In her soul Aurash knew that the only way to keep their oath was to find a great, powerful secret. A secret that could change everything. This was Aurash’s soul, her fire and her shadow — her desire to cut through the flank of the world and find its beating heart.
“We have to dive,” Aurash said. “That’s what this ship is built to do. Dive into the Fundament, the world below us... towards the core.”
“That’s where the ancient crew died so obscenely,” Xi Ro protested. “That’s where the atrocity in the birthing room was born...”
“We have to dive,” Sathona said, following the whispers of her familiar. “In the world beneath us, in the metallic depths, I hope we may find what we need most...”
More time. More life.