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There were the two Kao-Sidhe with them at the Peak. They had accompanied the elemental they guided to this invitation, and were occupying some upper wall space with a lot of apparent activation. Rosy Glow was raptly reflecting the extradimensional palette before her petal eyes. Dragon Food was looking especially well-put-together, zesty and sparkling with flair, glistening with sauciness and hot from the fire as he took in the dance of two dragons up ahead. He couldn’t resist his own irresistible nature, and he began to float forward.

Bux Woollibee’s head turned as Dragon Food drew level with where he was standing on the bridge. He reached out to try to catch what might be a foot or a trailing wisp of aroma, but the sidhe was at this moment incorporeal. Dragon Food continued onward, his look turning more determined and courageous. Bux waggled a pointing finger after him as the Kao-Sidhe approached the viewpane. Arjun noticed and understood; walking calmly over, he reached out a hand that passed right through Dragon Food’s currently diminutive form, which continued forward with stubbornly singular focus. Arjun looked at Soleil. Soleil looked at Rosy Glow, who was enraptured both by the otherworldly sunset and by her love flying into it. “Can you do anything about that?” Soleil asked her road friend. “What is he doing?”

“I don’t know,” murmured Rosy Glow, “and probably not. We, our kind, have to be what we are, or we wouldn’t exist. I believe right now, he’s going to be what he most truly is. I love him for exactly that. I don’t think I could stop him if I tried, and I’ve never tried.”

“But is he going to be okay? Are we going to be okay?”

“How could I be the one to answer that?” She looked back toward Dragon Food and the sunset, swooning helplessly.

“Can you blind him? Confuse him?”

“Me? No. Though he might argue differently. And trying might ruin this, first. Isn’t there more time left in the song?” At this moment, Dragon Food passed through the viewing pane and out into the aqueous area inside the permeable torrential slip field.

With one hand out toward what just happened, Arjun demanded of Rosy Glow, “Where are your limits? What are your limits? Could he always do that?”

“Always? No, I can’t imagine so. He’s doing it now.”

“Doing what?” asked Arjun.

“His thing.” Her hypnotized expression turned into an anticipatory grin.

Arjun’s thoughts raced. They’ve been working on this for academic ages. This wouldn’t exactly be happening right now without these two, or this one apparently determining his own role. This was now occurring on its own. They couldn’t have guessed or tried for this, and this has to be it. We’re already getting more than we ever have, and giving more than we ever have. We now have to pay attention, save everything we can of this moment. He looked around the room, checking the reactions of the research crew. Instrument reading techs in all their fields appeared to understand the gravity of these observations, doubling down on their focus, accuracy, and detail. No one had any idea what to expect when they started out, and not in the next phase, or this next. They knew how to handle not knowing. They were here for real science.

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