50.1 \ 232

Out in the sticks, the Pan-Galactic situation was a little different. They weren’t subject to defensive house lockdown because these weren’t areas of signal attack, but being disconnected from service centers had its drawbacks. Everyone was further apart. Things felt more like they could dissolve at any time, including civilization and levels of living support. Most resource aid was directed to population centers under martial lockdown, where the mysterious broadcast portals overtook all other media. That made sense enough, while in the outer fringes, support was something people did for each other; this was where Leiv Gruun decided to go doing things here and there for a while.

Round 2

The performance troupe arts residency with Momentom Collective has extended its participation window for another month, and I’m in it. We’re talking about a co-taught author session with John Early, travel memoirist, myself in science fiction fantasy, both of us poets. More creative alchemy is likely to ensue from within our temporary enclave. It’s been enriching, productive, and multidimensional, as well as conducive to the ongoing continuation of Bones of Starlight. More story on its way while I stay creatively fit, and share the mead of inspiration with worlds beyond and behind words, in a pocket of supportive safety tucked away in wild beauty.

49 \ 231

There was no one in Ops 2, but the lights were on. Yrenn opened the door wide and Margeaux followed her into the spacious room occupied by a maze of equipment and supply, to poke around with her. Busy heads are often buried, in here especially.

Buzzing around distractedly (actually, consciously and cautiously), Yrenn closed the door habitually, and distractedly gravitated back toward Margeaux, who was searching for a relevant note marked obviously for her, as one would do when leaving a station with matters soon to arrive.

In the strange conspiratorial way that people behind the scenes have with each other, Yrenn humorously put a finger up in front of her and her friend’s lips, something the actual two of them had done together countless times. Margeaux politely played along. Yrenn Soleil’s face turned calmly and completely serious behind her finger. She softly released her glammer (while jamming it for any camera image), and was unquestionably the actual Princess Soleil, Magus the 25th.

Margeaux’s hush reflex was very, very good. The fleeting confusion on her face turned into a spreading joy, which grew into ecstatic silent screaming. Soleil silently screamed back at Margeaux, and they crashed together hugging, with a few little jumps. Soleil put her index fingers back up in front of them before they separated. Keeping the one up before Margeaux, Soleil opened the tote and brought out the velvet necklace clamshell.

So many nonsensical guesses flickered through Margeaux’s mind as to what could be going on, most of them versions of films with certainly none of them being the actual truth. This was good. This was too good. She couldn’t wait. She had already gotten over the total transformation, however that happened. Next, necklace box. There’s no way she could get in trouble for this.

Holding the box before her, Soleil revealed the piece-de-resistance of stamp-cut tin on cable. Continuing to gesture for silence because there wasn’t time to answer all the questions, she lifted the necklace as though she were sharing a fashion secret. Dangling it from one hand, she tilted the charm toward Margeaux’s gaze to where the glint of the chip inside could catch her eye. With gestures, nods, and mouthed words, it was confirmed that Margeaux saw the chip and understood that was the important part.

With a slow, full inhale, Soleil delivered as few words as possible. “Take this. I made it. Have a good look at it. Share it with the right people here. There are reasons you will discover. Don’t mention me, yet.” These words were delivered as though they also meant everything she wished they had time to talk about.

Aware of the obvious seriousness, Margeaux couldn’t help but beam anyway at the presence of her friend, the Princess. Through this, she replied with equal steadiness, “I’m just so happy to see you. Whatever you need, do you need anything? I’m not a speaker, so I can deal with this very important tech issue all night if need be. Intense show-saving often results in zero noticeable effects.”

“Just do this. I need to go.” Soleil drew up her Yrenn glammer, which took extra effort while someone was watching, but she was still able to do it and wind up thoroughly convincing.

Margeaux shook her head, processed that, and accepted it once more. “I’ll do it.” Not that she would do it without questioning – just that she would, and question.

“The necklace is,” she extended quote fingers, “‘for your new collection’. It can go on any model, or none.”

“Oh, I love it.” Margeaux actually put it on, adjusted it, peered inside, and patted it. “It’ll be perfect for my stroll at the end.”

“Right now, you can leave me behind separately, like I’m finishing a task.”

“I’ll never leave you behind, dear friend – but I will go.” Margeaux reached out and squeezed Yrenn Soleil’s shoulder as though she were Yrenn, reinforcing the difference of behavior. Soleil gave Margeaux a cheek kiss, which became an extra-long chain of cheek kissing till they shoved each other away with fluttering hands.

48 \ 230

Yrenn Tiche picked up some open volunteering as a door usher for the banquet. She had first scoped out each volunteer station – reception, green room, Ops 1, and Ops 2. She’d somehow not met Margeaux’s path along this circuit, but she had gotten a handy WLS logo tote bag; the data chip necklace was inside, and she kept the bag within sight, a distinguishing ribbon tied to one strap.

She finally spotted her cousin Margeaux within the banquet hall, sprucing up table decor and talking to the stage techs. Yrenn Soleil felt a rush of kinship and confidence at this sight. Continuing to help out, she watched for the right moment that a volunteer should approach an organizer.

“There’s a tech in Ops 2 who wants to discuss the banquet amplification and broadcasting with you,” she said, finally venturing forth. Ops 2 was actually destaffed during the banquet, which she learned from errant questioning. “May I walk you there in order to help catch our person?” This moment during the lead-up was exactly when that sort of issue should be addressed directly. Margeaux swiftly agreed and walked in that direction with Yrenn, who scooped up her bag. Matching gaits as they moved felt so familiar.

Sitting in a plush recessed hallway chair, seemingly reading, Derringer saw the two women hustle along. That was definitely the friend. He was washed and happy. After spending a brief yet sexy time together, Karma led her talk forthwith and was already gone, skipping out on the rest for probably a good reason. She was doing well and so was he. Right where he needed to be, and good to go.