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It would be worth it. Soleil said what she could use, and the krewe said what they could do. It was lock and key, demand meets skill. It helped that they were at the ebullient age where they had new talent and enjoyed flexing it to prove themselves. Drift X handled the contact like it was a regular Vedani aetherscape interface terminal, utilizing one of the text monitors with flattened-output letter-based imagery translation. They planned on bouncing the program module back and forth a couple more times, mostly building in Soleil’s access flap and broadening hardware versatility. She had time now to scope an entry.

The Captain let her borrow her infosheet again. This time, Wendel showed Soleil how to open the programming reroute to use more computer capabilities than the infosheet firmware. One of her recent contracts, a green-haired scientist, had ramified the transport driver’s infosheet upon interest, for the favor of using it. The lightcloth design was so handy, no wonder it was a popular device. Soleil took it with her for more solo time in the gunnery.

Princess Soleil hadn’t used her masque in a long time, and it would be nice to know how well it still worked. She had tied together this anonymous communications access route way back when she was a teenager exploring outside the confines of privilege. The average bedroom window escape in the form of a virtual peephole that only used modified Trailknife freeware, her setup still floating in a forgotten corner of academic history.

An innocent prank of yore was was putting herself onto invite lists. No lists of record, since that could come back to her. Not necessarily because she could go, but maybe she’d want to. Not as many events think to invite the Princess as one might guess, but certainly they’d be glad if she’d like to go.

Soleil opened a series of individual windows and fell into the step-by-step rhythm of gaining anonymity, and creating a new identity that fit the system she was entering. Boot/log/open/encrypt/access/select/search/encrypt/route/access/closewindows/erasetrail. Masque. After that, Yrenn Tiches was now a listed volunteer for the Women’s Leadership Symposium, in case she needed to officialize, and she would appear as the alias, Yrenn. Princess Soleil tasted the irony of hardly using her dragon’s boon of perceptual disguise until she was back home. She felt done. That was it. She folded the infosheet and waved it in the air as she went forward to talk to the others.

Derringer, Wendel, and Toller were chatting up front, facing the eerie view of a darkened orbit cluster. Captain Wendel accepted her infosheet from the Princess. Soleil leaned up casually as if just to join their conversation, though they’d gone quiet in expectation. To the private investigator, she said, “You’ll be happy. We’re going back to Alisandre.”

“Mm.” Derringer took this in with the slightest of nods. “Okay.” He didn’t expect to be dunking the puck straight in the bucket, but he could keep the prizewinner in good condition with his eye out for deal closure. If he tried to control her, he’d lose her. There’s no strongarming this one, not if he wants to keep his good name when she reaches power.

“Alright,” said Wendel as she readied. Toller secured himself in the copilot’s chair. “Let’s fire up this woodstove.” They knew she was referring to the potbellied unit installed by the Vedani, which glowed a little when Drift X was engaging in jump. “Nice and toasty.”

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