– 42 –
The sky was turning pale with the first light of dawn. The General and Princessa were reading by lamplight in a corner. A ghostly light shone over Princess Soleil’s face, reflecting off the wall and displays around her head.
A display brightened before making the urgent chime they knew as the change of state alert. Mireille Magus dropped her book to her lap and looked over at General Claymore. In a moment she was by her sister’s bed reading the display. To Draig, Soleil looked no different, except for perhaps a change around her eyes.
“She’s in regular REM sleep.” Mireille searched his face. “She might wake up.” General Claymore was on his feet instantly, quietly. Still reading the display, Mireille spoke just above a whisper. “I will contact my family. Please inform the Doctor, Arkuda, Bright Wave, and the medical staff. In that order. Thank you, General.” He stepped closer to see Soleil breathing easily before striking a salute and exiting.
People arrived shortly. Aided by the dragon and Aquari, the doctor advised that the Princess would likely be awake within the day. Queen Celeste would wait.
It was two deep breaths before Soleil realized she was conscious in her waking mind, in the world again. The room was quiet. No pain, other than heaviness in her limbs.
Trying to clear her throat, she managed to make a noisy breath. Swallowing was easy. She adjusted to the dim light. It was a deep relief to be looking out through her eyes again. Someone familiar sat to her left. Her grandmother, the Queen.
“Don’t speak, Soleil.” The Queen placed two fingers on her granddaughter’s lips before holding her face between her hands.
A surge of panic woke Soleil more fully. Did the Queen know what had been revealed to her? She welcomed the presence, but her mind recoiled with mistrust. Ugly things she’d learned in her sleep came rushing back. Paranoia took the helm before giving over to cool analysis, as she’d learned to do. Still, she could only bring herself to meet her grandmother’s eyes for so long.
The Queen hummed a long, entrancing tune. It brought her comfort, yet when Soleil realized she was being lulled, she fought back. She felt warmth at her temples, and was reminded of the seven symbols she tucked away. They would remind her, and they were safe. She would not forget.
– 5TH SEQUENCE –
– 43 –
“We are in touch. We are linked.” The large man serviced the one-person vehicle, readying it for travel. He looked up at what he was speaking to. “I can feel her extreme emotions. I may even understand, and respond. That said, you-” he yanked a strap to tighten, “-have a ways to go in your part of this scenario.”
The reply shimmered warmly through the air around him. “Do not worry yourself on our behalf. We are under no constraints to show you our work.” The snarl was evident, if not visible. “If forces continue to operate correctly, events will occur with proper timing. Human.”
“If you insist on being obscure. So very draconic.” Despite being short of speech, he knew they’d be fully vocal about any issues. He hit a button and the small airlift hummed to life, picking itself up off the ground. He hopped onto the platform and gripped the handlebars. “I have people to be in touch with. My supply network, they’ve bungled something.” He yanked the straps securing his packs. “You know how to reach me.” The Vedani airsled’s field popped up around him, and he sped toward the southeastern horizon. The shimmering heat waves around him dissipated with a hiss. Only the dark plain remained, tossed by the breeze.
– 44 –
The window view from the recomissioned vacation resort-turned-refugee ship Odessia 6 beheld the northern curve of Genesee at morning. Ice caps were visible, marred with faults that could be picked out with sharp vision. Wendel Harper sat on the carpeted hallway floor looking out, her short blond hair coated with dust, face hovering between relief and regret.
Quiet footsteps announced the arrival of the teenage boy she’d rescued aboard her ship. He slowed as he neared her, stopping close by. He faced the planet sunrise, hands in his pockets. He looked as though he’d had sleep.
Toller allowed the quiet to stretch on. There’s a word to describe the common feeling to those whose destiny has become separate from their home planet, the new sense of oneself as extraterrestrial. He couldn’t state it, but there it was, encapsulated in the moments he watched the sun shine over it from space.
He remembered his mother, the last time he saw her before she died. Beautiful in his memory, surrounded by drab walls in their depressed city neighborhood. Her presence in his thoughts took him by surprise.
“You’re sure, then,” said Harper, breaking the silence. “You’re not going to stay here or go back.”
“No.” He looked at her sidelong. “I’ve reached escape velocity. I never actually thought it would happen.” He showed the sincerity in his eyes. “Thought I’d live my life planetbound. Took pride in it, even.” He looked to see if she knew what he meant. “But that’s over. I’m gone, and I think I’ll just keep going for a while.”
Harper nodded. Calmness surrounded his figure. There was energy in that poise of being, but little direction. “You’re still not sure where.”
“I never really bothered with astrography before. I could head to the capital, but I think I’d be lost there.” He shrugged, looking at his hands before putting them back in his coat pockets. “More lost than I am?”
She smiled a bit. “You’re not lost. You look like you know exactly where you are.”
He nodded. “It’s a habit I picked up.” They met each other’s eyes and smiled.
“Feel like getting the morning meal?”
“..Yeah. Are they just feeding us here?”
“More or less.” She uncrossed her legs and stood, shouldering a medium-sized pack. “Come with me.”
– 45 –
This wing of the Great Library of Alisandre was quiet, empty but for the two seated in a softly lit alcove. Dragon and human, they sat on the ground at a low table. Their faces were placid, eyes half-closed in the peach colored glow of the table top.
A conscious-subsconscious logic reordering program played between them midair. Its derivatives shifted and progressed according to the pattern Soleil had arranged herself, not long ago in the company of this teacher. Draconid recall techniques had ways of re-orienting parts of a being scattered far and wide across the planes. The human uses supported broader memory, meditation and acuity, methods available to some few since the dragons first offered to share them.
The images continued through their phases, points and shapes flashing in rhythmic connection. Eventually, it ran to an end, the table going dim as the light in the alcove brightened. The dragon looked at the Princess. She sent her unfocused stare out to the library, mouth shut tight. She would look at him, but never for long. It was better since they started the sequence three days ago.
“Would you like me to leave you in peace?” said golden-white Councillor Arkuda. Princess Soleil, hands on her knees, looked at him, then past him. Slowly she inclined her head and let it drop, her breathing light and still. It was strange to see her like this. People acted this way in grave peril. She was relaxed, focused on survival in tumult, though he couldn’t divine why. She was aware and able to maintain composure; still, she had not yet spoken.
The Princess folded her hands into a mudra on her knees, the one for keeping still and letting all else pass. Arkuda hadn’t determined whether she’d been doing these intentionally or not. Humans were capable of performing nuanced mudras without being aware of it. Regardless, he took the cue and rose from his seat.
“Until tomorrow, Princess. May the stars light your way.” Arkuda left, exiting into a side hall of the Library.
Hearing him leave, her pulse slowed. It wasn’t Arkuda she had met in her vision, but his essential similarity was unnerving. Was it a warning against him, or a sign that he was an ally? She watched to test her guesses, but none were proven nor discounted. She couldn’t let down her guard.