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Territories

Seven months ago.

Behind the clouds in the sky, a crisp starscape scattered across the firmament. It shimmered as a black sheet patterned with scattered specks of energy, hesitant and withdrawn behind the vivid blue of ozone. The mutual visual anchor was the disc of the sun, presenting itself as an overexposure in either view that eroded its own outline and demanded that Valcen squint to endure its presence even briefly.

He could confirm the images were aligned. Nonetheless, there remained a dissonance to them that he struggled to bridge. His brain stubbornly rejected the coherent whole, insisting that only one of the two could be tangible, as though he had simply augmented his vision with metadata. As though only one of the views could do him harm.

Despite all the thought he had put into the architecture of this avatar, there was only space for one physical reality in his holistic perception. Disappointment. Not sufficiently malleable.

He grimaced, digging a claw into one eye to switch it back to the baryonic view, bring his vision into alignment. In afterthought, blinking the mild discomfort of the pressure away, he raised a wrist to the sky to blot out the worst of the offending star's glare, regarding the firmament's new visual unity.

He analysed his reaction to what he was looking at, compared it to what he expected - one of the cornerstones of what he was holding onto for as long as this organic mind allowed. There it was - firmly rooted in the depths of his subjective impression, the star and Nekenalos' orbit around it remained clear, an imagined physical sensation dragging him through space every passing moment. The breath of the void. The sheer of solar wind.

A memory, kindling amusement: "You and I, however we can't unsee the motion, can we? The galactic parallax. The whirlpool of cosmic bodies."

Of course, that same orbit he imagined himself to be witness to separated him from the very person who had made that fitting observation. It had been strictly slashed in two without so much as a single communication about it. It was an implicit understanding. Nekenalos' territory reached toward the star and no further; Earth's territory occupied the other half of the orbit. Like the hands of a cosmic clock, the border lines swept across the unoccupied arcs of the planets' orbit during the year's gradual passing, keeping their subjective territories unchanged.

It was that same cosmic clock that warned that the status quo would only be tolerated as long as it was necessary.

There was no worry that there would be any repeat of what had happened to Nekenalos' parent star here. That avenue spelled mutually assured destruction far more than Jeneth's humans might have ever envisioned the phrase to mean.

Nonetheless, there was a chance Jeneth would breach the implicit territorial bound and meddle in the affairs of what was, from his perspective, a parasitic planet, to catastrophic effect. With every passing day, that chance increased, representing Jeneth's cumulative impatience and resentment.

There was nothing Valcen could do about it but hope Evenatra was sane enough to understand the risk and fervently work on a solution.