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Some allies didn't get along. At least, not at that moment. Neither Starr nor the Radiant Paths wanted to talk about it. Maybe there was some history there between them, but we had neither the courage nor time to ask.

We offered Starr a position among the black army, and the Radiant Paths were integrated into the red. They readily agreed. Different forces meant they never had time for direct contact, and they would each be too occupied with their own missions to even know the other existed.

It was enough at the time. Their forces were never even assigned to attack or defend the same positions, that was how separated they became. On the other hand, they were still able to work together independently to prevent enemy escape.

We had other forces support them, sometimes even the same units would support both. But it still kept their contact to a minimum so that there was no pressing need for any kind of direct interaction between them.

On their own, both Starr and the Radiant Paths performed brilliantly with nothing negative to occupy their minds. They all served with distinction.

As time went on, there were occasional attempts by one side or the other to make gestures of peace with their less-than-friendly friends, but there was not much practical need for anything closer to be established. It would have been nice to have, but they could both fight on without repairing whatever it was that had ruptured their relationship.

Things did eventually improve over time, but the process was long because each side had set their priorities elsewhere. Their overall goal had little to do with their allies. They just happened to be on the same side because they shared a common direction.

Whenever conflict seemed to be on the verge of breaking out between them, we had plenty of distractions for both of them. The red and black armies each had long lists of unfinished missions, which could easily take their minds off of one another. They were happy enough with that situation.

Both Starr and the Radiant Paths settled down to the normalcy of war, if war could even be called normal. We didn't have time for internal strife to take down our overall effort. Rain met with both Starr and the Radiant Paths on a regular basis. If there was ever going to be anything passed between them, it would have to have been indirectly, through Rain. That was the way they liked it, as long as each was dealing with an intermediary they preferred.

It made the relationship fairly stable and structured. Remove situations of potential conflict, and we would reduce risk. Rain wasn't always available, so each side devoted their own time to finding intermediaries. As long as it was someone, or some team, that both sides dealt well with, it would be another possible bridge between them.

The years of war dragged on, but things had settled into a steady state. The situation was no longer as volatile as it was at the beginning. Experience helped all of us with that. Eventually, Starr and the Radiant Paths did come to terms with one another, but it was only after decades of indirect interaction, and the stakes between them had been blunted by other concerns.

Unfortunately the war continued, but it too had evolved over that span of time. I suppose even our enemies learned from experience. We were all learning to make do with the reality of the situation. Fortunately, because of the reduction of internal conflict, Starr's realm and the Radiant tribes had all begun to flourish, despite the drains of war.

It was a strange culture we were growing into, one where things we once thought temporary were becoming seen as a standard part of life in those times. But as long as we were supporting one another, even if indirectly by one or more degrees of separation, things were actually improving for us. We even looked forward to those meetings with our intermediaries, since it meant a chance to deal with those we ourselves had chosen to be a part of our circles.

If only the overall war would end, everything might have been much simpler. That was a different miracle we were working on. I suppose each generation had to relearn the lessons of previous ones. But unfortunately after the biggest problems of our predecessors were fixed, many of the most important lessons would drain from the popular consciousness, only to be collected at the bottom of oversimplified history books.

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