15.Ascending

The proverbial dust having settled, Juni finally brought its mother back to Kajoshu, while Sasha reenabled Juni's main neural simulation before going on her court-ordered oath of silence — as a favor to Tamu. En route to Kajoshu, Juni finally explained to Hira what had been happening, and they shared their thoughts about aspects of community and outreach (Juni opting to take a more abstract big-picture view, as usual).

Returning to the village, Hira was a bit shocked to learn that Eugene had taken over as broodwitch in her absence, but was surprised to discover that Eugene had a natural talent for it. Meanwhile, Juni was in conversation with one of the Homin robot drones — now taking the designation "Seventeen," with the host simulation itself now referred to as "Zero" — which Hira once again voiced her distaste with. Seventeen, however, turned out to have a tendency to pick up sand in its right wheel, so before leaving Kajoshu, Juni taught Eugene how to fix it, so Juni and its simulation could "keep an eye on the village." Somehow, the implications of this did not alarm Eugene.

Juni eventually returned to the South and to Tamu's good graces, and managed to tidy up and organize its thoughts well enough to form a proposal to the Directorate (the Southern oligarchy), forming a knowledge exchange program with Kajoshu, to enable future generations of Kayohash to communicate directly with both the simulation and the Homin information systems. It worked up the nerve to ask Tanya out to dinner, which Tanya accepted, distracting her from her job momentarily.

During Juni's absence/vacation, Tamu had balanced Zero's neurochemistry, and Sasha had used her period of silence to visit her hive. The media had many questions for Juni, however, especially about the trial (the records of which had now been permanently sealed), Juni's working relationship with Kali Rosha, and the Homin robot drones which had become quite prevalent throughout the South. Still unable to deal with confrontation very well, Juni attempted to swear in English (getting it wrong) before meeting up with "some friends" for dinner — Tanya, Kali, and Kila. They discussed the long-ago agreed-to story, the subject of which had now shifted rather drastically.

On the way home, Juni and Tanya ran into Sam and Cynthia, who were giving Cynthia's pups a walk. Sam was still reeling from the recent events. Juni and Tanya's relationship continued to develop nonetheless, with Tanya even considering becoming a neutrois like Juni.

Several tens of rounds pass; Chandra has learned even more about the English language, and has given a lecture involving some rather fanciful theories of its etymology; Juni, with its innate understanding of the information Chandra is butchering, only observes. Much happened in the intervening time; Sasha had come close to completing her Ph.D., causing much strife among her sisters, and some time later, she graduated, with Tamu opting to announce his retirement as part of his commencement address.

Older and wiser, Juni eventually ascended to the rank of General, and opted to give press conferences in a park, and provide full disclosure to the media. An informed populace is a happy populace.

Juni continued to work closely with Zero and Sasha, particularly in preparing the next generation of Kayohash to take Juni's place. Zero, now settling on a more artificial-looking avatar for its self-representation, relayed a message from Hira and Tamu, requesting that it and Tanya head to Kajoshu as soon as possible. Zero mentioned to Juni that the pods were finally available for travel; Juni was of course happy about this.

Juni and Tanya arrived in Kajoshu much more quickly than expected. Hira was happy to learn that Juni was teaching some Kajoshi to Tanya; Juni was happy to learn that Tamu was accepted by the Kayohash children. But Hira had a very specific purpose in summoning Juni: she wanted Juni to adopt a recently-hatched parth — its sister.

Juni and Tanya adopted Thena Melrose, and Zero greeted the new era.

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