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“Someone on the phone for you by the name of Pleiades Nutts. Do you want to answer?” The bartender looked inquiringly at the patron on the end gazing out through the window. Her name was on her tab, and he’d seen her a few times.

“Oh, sure.” Marian Waters accepted the cordless and turned away from the bar to talk. “Hey you, rascal.” Back during the research, she and the boy had a lunchtime talk about their respective deep histories. He’d given her permission to call him rascal. Marian was one among the crew who had made him their little brother.

“Do you ever feel like things are too quiet?”

“Of course, sometimes.”

“…I like it, actually. I fight back with beautiful noise that I call music.”

“I do wonder about what’s going on out there. Like what they’re doing with that place, and maybe where she is and what she’s doing.” They spoke without defining context, as though the other person were supplying the details. The place was mostly empty at this early afternoon hour, so Marian didn’t rush the conversation.

“Haha, yeah, it’s all a big mystery now.” The Hoopoe had his glib tone on the level.

“We live lives of mystery,” replied the older woman in a dramatically wise voice – actually her nature documentary voice.

“That’s what I needed from you when I called. A mountaintop perspective.”

“You actually bring them out. I’m glad you’re forgiving of the occasional pontification.”

“I’m known for that myself, in other circles. So…” the Hoopoe trailed off, aimlessly content, “… I guess that’s all for now.” Marian Waters smiled as she hung up the phone and handed it back to Joe the bartender. She hadn’t expected to be in Dalmeera, but when they decided on her location she was glad she could visit some of her favorite weird fish again.

The Hoopoe steadily sucked on a smoothie. The nice lady at the counter let him use the phone as much as he liked. Next, the young man called Steinman, who also accepted the call from Pleiades Nutts. “So, living the dream?”

“It’s a dream, alright.” Arys was all gin and wry and other things in the right amounts.

“How long do you think we’re going to get by like this?”

“Have you been watching the normal news?”

“I don’t know, a little?”

“Well, we might Be Able To relax for a while. There’s a lot of moving and shifting going on, everywhere. For now, it’s not us. We got a really good package. We’re lucky people.” The mathematical programmer felt a detached sympathy for the boy’s masked restlessness. “You got a new song?”

“Actually yeah, I think I just finished one today.”

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