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The Planks was a commonly used name for the interconnected floating platforms that made up the large craft fueling station for this subquadrant of Foshan. It was a famous fueling station, and some of the more unusual vessels in and on Foshan’s waters made it a destination. There were well-connected people at The Planks who could solve unique problems. News also flew fast from there.

The Arch approached underwater. Saer the cleaner had convinced Bux and Arjun that the escape pod with her and Draig Claymore was their best choice in this maneuver. The twin brothers solemnly enacted rituals meaningful to them before they left their greatest-yet achievement to an uncertain fate.

Draig was the last on the bridge, executing final command. The parting was a little sentimental – he may not have had the Arch for long, but what a magnificent and momentous thing it was. But one must molt when it is time, one of those crablike wisdoms that occasionally floated up ever since meeting the Eldest Davyjones.

Navigating to the very edge of flotsam moorage, they acted like any other partially submarine vessel, albeit a strikingly unmissable behemoth that was probably already creating a stir over the station’s readings. The Arch surfaced within approved tolerances, its light-absorbent black surface doing the opposite of gleaming. Calmly, Draig disengaged systems on a timer and walked to the emergency flyer containing the others.

At the surface, the Arch was straightened, resting oblong and unusually still atop the waves. It was large enough that it took small boats time to travel its length. The escape vehicle jettisoned underwater, and the image of the floating Abyssal Inverse Dwelling receded from them. Buckminster piloted the pod; Arjun had been worried that he’d be too emotional. In her seat, Saer looked glad to be moving on. Draig had already had himself strapped to a gurney with eyemask, earplugs, and blankets – the basic sensory deprivation protocol. He’d told them he would hum, and he used a throaty tone that focused him and allowed his mind to float.

Behind his closed eyes and screened behind the sound of his hum, Draig searched for and found a familiar parting of the veil. This was an access granted him by his role in organizing the Viridian Phasing, the dragonroad scrambling that kept Red Nexus dragons and the unaffiliated from being able to navigate Imperial space. Touching dragonroads as a human, even with just the mind, can be extremely unsettling; but Draig just took off, his hum tethering him to his body.

He was looking for a way to be heard, and figure out how to say what he needed to say. There was also the question of his current authority. While he may not have his human rank (which Dragons have learned to mind to an extent), he was still the most inextricable human to the Viridian Phasing synergy, having actually met many involved beings in its initiation. They might, he hoped, hear him with the most inclination to agree. Allowing in potentially destructive forces, but also many who can be instrumental, and freeing the resources of the closest allies – this was the shift being called for by this moment, if they would listen. He himself didn’t bother raising any quibbles as to his standing, and if they wished they could take it up with someone else later. They might, with their own powers of reason, agree with him enough to cooperate.

As he raced around the sonically fragmented byways with codekey clarity, he sounded the knell in as many ways as he possibly could, with the energy signatures read by Dragons:

time for this to end / time / for / this / to / end / t/i/m/e/f/o/r/t/h/i/s/t/o/e/n/d
now is the time / now / is / the / time / n/o/w/i/s/t/h/e/t/i/m/e

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