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Section 1

At the base of the Stalk, the Godhands milled, their uniforms neatly pressed. They were talking about their conquests, their workouts. They were bragging without bragging. A smugness so Saborian.

There was a sudden commotion, and the crowd became excited. lt was the assembly arriving in quick succession. Once-handsome Telemon, only gave a brief wave before stepping into the butter-gold booth and waiting for the others. Methusan followed, with his familiar explosion of hair and forked beard streaked with silver.

Once they were all in the booth, the door was cranked shut, and it began the ascent up the stem of the Stalk. lt served as a reminder of why this mattered. Every day a Saborian took several small leaps, drawing them closer and closer to god.

Today the Committee would be discussing the gem-combing wastrels of the studded desert, and the Pillipai who were protesting in Conos over their unfair treatment. None of the cities were accepting new citizenships, and the godhands, unsupervised and lawless, had grown violent beyond the walls.

The godhands had been taught how to use force, that is how these things start. Unless the Pillipai were put under pressure. how else could there be enough fuel and food for the four cities?


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