Chapter 8

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It was far from the first clue that something was wrong.

But it was only after what I experienced during my first Field Training mission that I started noticing those little red flags.

We lower-leaders-in-training, after going through just a couple cycles of education in… I guess you could call it a boarding school, of sorts — would be sent out to train with an official lower-leader of a “compatible” spirit type. In my case, that meant a community of symbi with a highly Saturated spirit. (The idea being that their Active nature would help guide my gray, “Passive” one — that their abundance of color would rub off on me; would fundamentally change my own, more limited, coloring.)

Of course, all lower-leaders were balancers, so my supervisor’s Active status was only their secondary trait. They were also an emotion-eater, meaning they fed off emotion-energy and emitted logic-energy; fed off Red and emitted Cyan.
Even without actively feeding, balancers affected those around them slightly. In this case, my supervisor caused those around them to become more clear-headed and, in exchange, lose any surface-level emotions they may have had.
On top of that was my supervisor’s high level of Yellow, order-energy.

When I added those traits up, I realized… my supervisor… was one of the highest ranking lower-leaders…!
It was likely because I showed a potential for becoming the Dead Ones’ next lapdog, but, at the time, it made me nervous. Did the Dead Ones already suspect me? Were we genuinely the most compatible pairing for each other?

Why would the Dead Ones assign me to someone… who, in their calculations, would remove my ability to make my own decisions? Would remove my emotions and imprint their own “Order” onto me?!

Lucky for me, they could not have been more wrong. The Dark, Indirect nature of my spirit helped hide the truth. I played along — all the while desperately hoping no one noticed I was hiding anything. Hoping they kept assuming that the Indirectness within my nature manifested as shyness — rather than a hunter’s instinct to stalk its prey.

 

On my first Field Training mission… my supervisor was called in to deal with a disturbance at a store.
And I tagged along.

The local townsfolk were celebrating the birth of a new child. That was likely why the criminal thought they’d get away with it.
But the storeowner, when they came back for supplies for that celebration, had caught them in the act. Apparently, the criminal had been defacing the store’s exterior by growing moss-like plants, all different base-colors, into a picture. Kinda like graffiti, but… more permanent — a real pain to fix.

There were other ways of constructing buildings, but the most common was to create a frame with plants, fill it with lava, and let it harden. Once planted in that hardened lava, the “graffiti” would need to be thoroughly removed, and the holes patched, or else the entire building would collapse as the plants grew larger and larger.
So, yeah. You can see why the store owner was upset. Regardless of how pretty the picture, admittedly, was, with the differently-colored-plants being mixed together like paints.

When we got there, the store owner had the criminal restrained. As was customary, both of them “opened their spirits” when we approached. To show vulnerability; that they were no threat and were “open to judgement.”
Oddly, the criminal did so even before the store owner. It took me a moment to see why: The owner was “prizmally-dulled.” I could compare it to humans’ blindness in the way it seemed to make navigation in our world difficult. I really can’t say what the store owner’s experience was like, though, so I’ll refrain from making further assumptions.

The criminal appeared to be a chaos-emitter — with only a barely-acceptable level of self-energy.
A chaos-emitter wouldn’t survive without releasing the chaos-energy they created. For their societal roles, they often went into some kind of creative field. I chose to call it “chaotic” energy, but it could also have been called “freedom,” “uniqueness,” or “alternative” energy. Chaos-emitters were especially helpful when solving difficult problems, allowing the minds of the people around them to connect dots and think of ideas they would otherwise never have found!

However, what went wrong with this criminal, according to my supervisor, was his high level of self-energy. Although each Illuniran could only be one spirit-type, we all had every energy type inside of us. In this case, the criminal’s Green energy was just under 50% saturation — any more and he’d have been carted off to an Unsalv civilization.
As things stood, his self-energy had directed his chaos-energy toward self-expression. Which needn’t have been destructive in nature, but… well, the criminal had made a bad decision. And this wasn’t their first offence, either.

The criminal tried to argue that what they had done was only a prank. They even agreed to fix the store themselves. But, for whatever reason… This wasn’t enough for my supervisor.

Then came the unexpected — my supervisor ordered me to deal with the criminal.
And I hesitated. Sure, what the criminal had done was wrong, but… they had already agreed to fix the store, hadn’t they? They’d agreed to make up for their mistake. What more was there left to do here?
Surely my supervisor didn’t mean to… to take the criminal to an Unsalv civilization?! They weren’t an Unsalv! Sure, they were close, and they’d made mistakes, but-!

I’d hesitated too long.

So my supervisor punished me.

That store owner was prizmally-dulled? Well, I am and was prizmally-sensitive. My supervisor knew this, so my punishment was over-stimulation. In an instant, they’d expanded their aura, focused it at me, and-!
-It was like white-noise for every one of my senses. Illuniran senses aren’t quite the same as human ones, but — it was like having a siren blared in my ears, while my eyes were forced to stare directly at the sun, and a thousand needles pricked at my nerves.
Except — it didn’t hurt, per se; it was just overwhelming. Nonetheless, I couldn’t sense anything for hours afterward.

So, yeah… I never hesitated in front of my supervisor again.

And I never did find out what happened to that criminal.


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