– 42 –
“Scuse me,” said Leanders as he distanced himself from the others, into the corridor to receive a shipboard transmission via watch. Once he was done getting specifics, he rejoined them and smoothly interrupted. “One of our rocks erupted in a controlled blast. No visual ID and no further pattern.”
“What an intrusion,” said a bemused Raev. “Why not adjourn? I will go with you, Trosper.” The fellow who’d been giving the contractor’s debriefing (sparing Leanders the appearance of actual authority) stepped forward and nodded to Sturlusson. “We’ll unlink. Bye,” Sturlusson said, striding past him, and Trosper followed his passenger out.
From where she stood, Arcta lifted her hand in farewell, and so did the two new hires. “Bye,” they said. Leanders watched them disappear toward the back beyond the tech platform. “I’ll go with you,” the researcher said to him. Arriba nudged Vadr with her shoulder.
– 14TH SEQUENCE –
– 43 –
If the Princess had felt anchorless next to her base ship with a team in an unfamiliar area, now she was without any fellows, coordinates, or return point. Deep space wilderness threatened to overtake her thoughts – what have I done? where am I? what did I just do? – but she didn’t allow it more than half a moment. She still had this sled; she still had blips. Yes, she still had blips. Her day was just starting.
Soleil retained her vehicle settings, trying to feel and see what she was getting at when she achieved this… jump. Effectively transgate relocation, by some totally alternate (and she hoped, replicable) means. She was in one whole piece!
There was no structure other than her vehicle, and no evident power-up besides her own motions, and whatever this was. She had been describing a shape. The shape had a kind of pulse that she was able to match. She was pursuing a connection between her control movements, the maneuvers of her vehicle, and the planar directionalities of the shape as detected by her readings. Did she eat any breakfast? Yes, she’d had a starchy roll. Vedani apparently enjoy creating their versions of human food recipes.
As expected, this cluster was different. Were these things alive? There was a living sense about them that made her feel a little cheerful – like the presence of a bird. Soleil only gave that half a moment too, as she could only really allow comfort with a rest point in sight. She imagined to herself that this would happen, that there was a good reason behind the sense of calm leaking through to her.
Play and exploration had been her catalysts for discovery, so she kept these forces forefront, pretending the sense of safety that had encouraged her. So far it was working, and she moved at a pace that she could sustain for some time.
The Princess noticed a new factor to the total. While she was wary of being misled by stresses under extraordinary conditions, she let it into her formula. There was something vaguely musical about all this – yet so vague in essence that she needed to give it clearer form. Soleil began recalling known songs to fit the musical inkling, anything she could hear clearly in her thoughts. As they bubbled up, those songs became her anchors. It felt more or less right and suitable, relations between things seeming clearer. Focusing through three layered songlines amid gyration looping maneuvers, she vaulted through again.
– 44 –
The Princess hadn’t given herself time to think for a while, but at least she was still conscious, if barely. She’d been hoping a horizon would arrive before she knew it. Since that wasn’t the case, forebrain awareness resurfaced in the way one would think to check the time. She wasn’t yet a third tired, and when she reached tiring, she could bring herself up again. There weren’t any hours in this process, and if there were they might even function differently, like space and motion. So she measured herself against herself.
Soleil became better at this sojourning. If she wasn’t where she wanted to be, she could look for a way onward, finding it somewhere between the elements that were now becoming familiar. Remembered songs arose more frequently in her concentration, chaining themselves one after another like a musical channel. She would clear her thoughts when they became too loud, quieting the mind until she desired new guidance. It was both refreshing and grounding to picture it like bringing her boat to the riverside as she traveled on down. She began to imagine a sunrise – then shook herself back into the reality of blackness and stars.
The songs coming to mind were like guidances in that they weren’t strictly self-selected; they were connected to the phenomena she was observing. Their hearkenings and correlations went unexpectedly from one to the other, from moment to moment in her life that gave her the next idea where to go. It was anything you could hold onto out here.
Sometimes, she let herself and the music stop. Silence of motion. When it came time to move, she moved.
Her imagined music grew in detail and volume; she began to trust it. The Princess even smiled, perhaps for no good reason. She dialed down her pace and turned a third spent to a quarter, having seen no signpost.
– 45 –
Things that work,
at a time when the motion ends.
I am that.
As the sound trails away,
as the stream turns to a drip,
it is I.
What is the end of a day?
There came a time when you had to stop moving.
There will have been a finish line –
perhaps beginning again,
Swirls of powdered tea in a mug continued,
until they showed no motion:
one color in a uniform cup.
I am in the cup when the swirls are no more,
The motion that signals the end is my arrival.
You’ve seen me,
but did you know I was here?