“Kitsune are believed to possess superior intelligence, long life, and magical powers.”
The dictionaries were not helpful. The online databases were not much more useful. The only place – other than the letters, which were clearly not enough help – where Jen could find any information at all was an old, old, pre-space database which someone had reconstructed as a school project.
Kitsune were benevolent, or mischievous, or even malicious. They were spirits, or they weren’t, they shifted form, or they simply appeared to sometimes be human. The information was all over there.
But that one line: “…believed to possess superior intelligence, long life, and magical powers.” That, Jen grabbed on to. She could not lengthen her life, not on her own. But she could learn magic.
Of course, “magic” did not exist. Of course, “superior intelligence” was a matter of genetics and pre-birth implants and careful training. Of course, kitsune were a myth.
But Jen had been living off-planet just long enough to have learned that Central Bureaucracy had its lies that it needed to tell, and that colonists, settlers, the Modified, and the true aliens all had their own truths, truths which had more to do with what Jen needed than the Central Bureaucracy Registered Facts ever would.
Superior intelligence came from a series of illicit implants, a longer series of sleep-learning in an Earth-banned procedure used everywhere, usually to bone up on a specific subject, and an ever longer series of sessions with a Modified shaman.
The same shaman taught Jen the preliminaries of magic, and set her on the path to a second teacher, and then to an alien, native of the planet on which she & her father were now residing, who taught Jen things Central Bureaucracy had never even thought to forbid.
Kitsune were myth, but on her twenty-third birthday, Jen found herself staring in the mirror at a fox-fairy.
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