20 \ 202

The oceans of Foshan are the deepest of any inhabited planet in the Pan-Galactic Imperium, making the light on the surface appear unlike any other: prismatic layers of motion and mood, smooth and sharp in dimension. On a clear day, the surface is brilliant.

The pilots of the mismatched copters hovering in stakeout stalemate had to make themselves ignore the hypnotizing wavescape below, as it could cause momentary blindness – not good when fingers were resting lightly on triggers.

“Does our intel give us an expectation window?” asked a Foundational pilot to her crewmate.

“Any minute now, okay? This is the surfacing triangulation. We know what we need to do.”

In one of the corporate craft which had descended to threaten-the-threatening after the call from Arys Steinman, Karma Ilacqua was making rapid fire calls with her sunglasses. Her pilot tuned in and out, catching a snappy line here and there but keeping her nose well out of the business.

“They’re considering it.
“What would be attractive to you?
“How many? Dozens, specifically pertinent.
“Send me a rundown of your speculative interests. I’ll see what I have that may apply.
“What forms of situational support can you offer?”

No one remarked when for a shocking moment, light reflection disappeared entirely from the waves. Maybe it was a cloud, one of those invisible clouds.

Arkuda, watching them from within the surface shimmer of sunlight, could feel when the parts of the universe that were alive in Ignivf released from the living being. There would still be such a thing as a spark, still the bloom of heat, but the life was gone. It hurt, and without sublimating, Arkuda experienced multiplicity – the many places in er elemental existence where the final absence of Ignivf made something feel dead.

In the moment at the birth of a sun, Ignivf was no longer there. Where the sun’s intensity kindled a density that sent explosive hot showers awaited by a landscape of dormant seeds, Ignivf was gone. Like the disappearance of a color, without any colors missing.

People may fail to register the warmth of the sun on their face; synapse transmissions were spiritless. In the morning, an engine doesn’t start. At sundown, someone’s lights won’t work, and someone else has a hard time lighting a fire. These things are no longer like they were, and will not be again.

Arkuda sank down into the photon stream, to reappear in the Arch. The full daylight of the sunstrips was somehow solemn. First AIDD Arjun Woollibee, addressing an unusual issue, walked into his control office to find the Dragon Arkuda in humanoid form laying down on er back, looking at the ceiling. “I need to talk to Arctyri,” ‘e said.

Something was certainly amiss. “We’re working something out, also we’re not scheduled to go up for a few more days.”

“I am telling you that ‘e will be here soon to check on us.”

“Are you alright?”

“Arctyri will be here soon.” Later that day, Arctyri’s arrival was announced by formations of icy spires in the oceanic vicinity. The crew had been alerted while they resolved the issue, so there was no undue alarm.

In a burst of effulgence, Arkuda remanifested in the photon stream. Uninterrupted, it expanded and coiled in a loosely incorporated form the like of which Arctyri often favored. Without explanation, together they circled the structure. Those observing witnessed an unforgettable ephemeral phenomenon that no recording could really capture.

A swath of sunlight at the bottom of the ocean wafting through a cold concentration created a filamental filigree of flames drawn in ice, feathering out in gestural whorls of magnificent sculpture, sparkling and translucent like an ancient dawn. These crystalline forms dissipated slowly upwards, reforming as they touched each other in barely glimpsable micro-scenes of memory. The ice melted and the sunbeam went away, leaving a hush of wonder and a few tracks washing away in the sand.

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