Rated 17 and up for sexual situations
By Rajan Khanna
Part One: Contemplation
The human came to She Shalu on the Day of Flowering Awareness. Damo met him near the Still Garden, the fumes of the exiting shuttle mixing with the sharp spice of the tall, white twizak plant. Damo wore a humanoid shape so as to minimize the stranger’s discomfort.
Damo studied the human with the practiced eyes of a Synan. Dark hair covered his head and parts of his body, and he was sleight of build, despite the solidity of his form. About 1.7 meters tall. His features were mostly smooth, bones prominent, eyes with the barest hint of a slant. A mouth surrounded by full lips.
“How may I help you?” Damo said, trying to sound gracious.
“I came to study Wan She,” the human said.
Damo felt his features flow with his astonishment. Perhaps he had not heard correctly, or his translation module was malfunctioning. “I am sorry,” he said. “Wan She is the Path of Flowing Shapes. It is a Synan practice. Humans, being incapable of shifting, cannot practice it.”
The human smiled, revealing straight, white teeth. “I know. I’m writing a book,” he said. “But isn’t it true that the first stage is concerned solely with contemplation? Surely that is not beyond a human.”
Damo stifled his urge to shift in response to his unease. Uncontrolled shifting was against the teachings of Wan She. “That is true,” he said. “But Wan She is a path. Not a series of distinct teachings. To step on that path is to begin a journey.”
“All I ask is that you let me speak to your Tanshe. Let him decide.”
Damo was all too willing to accommodate the human in this. Let the Tanshe decide. It certainly saved Damo the trouble of having to assimilate this odd request.
“Please follow me,” he said.