96 \ 288

Soleil didn’t inform Rosy Glow of any intention. She just checked in to see if they should be doing anything about Dragon Food. Rosy’s response was, “We always hope he’s going to be okay!”

The Princess had let slip to Derringer that she was going to go her own way, just not when or how. She speedwalked through the halls to the isolated corner that the Dragons had agreed on in the mid-levels of the Arch. It was as quiet and deserted as they would like it, for the moment they had it. She rounded the edge of the space, finding Arkuda and Acamar each meditating in er own corner. The timeframes of their emanations were aligned, and Soleil synchronized her movements as she joined them.

“We have discussed what we are able to accomplish with the two of us, and yourself,” said Arkuda, opening one eye.

“Can we go?” Soleil asked, controlling her breathing. This was the kind of window in time that was more recognizable to people who’ve had Dragon contact, when sound dampens and attention is drawn towards what draws it. They had spoken of this and of that; whatever it was, it was time, and Soleil was ready.

“We can,” Acamar rumbled. “There is a way to bring you out with us both and then to a place of utility. You will become as light in the void, while remaining yourself. Neither of us has done exactly this before, but together and with you as our passenger, we know how. Are you feeling courageous?”

“There is hardly a moment with you that doesn’t demand it, but I could scarcely find you if I weren’t.” Dragons appreciate honesty.

Arkuda chortled. “I, at least, am a familiar element to which you are better accustomed.”

“The rarest of privileges.” Soleil dipped her head to them in courtly fashion. She was wearing the versatile Vedani control suit again, with its impact armor paneling and optional chameleon camouflaging. “So, what must I do, how shall we begin?”

In this corner there was a little bit of the sunstrip wiring that Arjun Woollibee had recently installed, throwing a soft midafternoon glow. “Touch the sunstrip,” Arkuda prompted, “relax, soften your vision, and breathe deeply.”

A smile crossed Soleil’s face as she prepared thusly, extending the open palm of her other hand into the space in front of her. Arkuda, brightness, and Acamar, darkness, both placed their large scaled hands into her Human one. The two Dragons then dissolved steadily into their elements, swirling around Soleil, lifting her loose hair in a soft wind. Her being transmuted into these forces, now a swirl of light and dark herself. The Princess vaporized into a translucent evanescence that was then gone with a surge of sunlight through the Arch’s system, as their linked atomic information shot upward through the channel.

95 \ 287

Preparations were underway for, what would be for many, their final ascent in The Arch. This felt much faster than the pace of the experiment leading up to now. That had taken aeons, relatively, and now they were done in a flash and disappearing in a puff of smoke. Many ultimate objectives for the materials of this project had been reached, if of course with indeterminate further speculations.

Karma Ilacqua and Arkuda walked across the spacious loading bay exchanging some closing remarks. “Arctyri has been a fascinating mystery to comprehend, one that I have barely known previously,” the Dragon mused. “I know ‘e will be pleased to be relieved of this duty, but this was a remarkable collaboration that will remain in our memories. Onward from here, I expect to face disputes of a different nature. Though we were in danger and secrecy, I feel now that I am leaving safety.”

“We did end up getting a little cozy in here.” Karma smiled. “I have actually never worked with Dragons before, and I would like you to know what a thrill and a joy it has been. Consider me open to your further contact.” Equipment was being dismantled around them, priceless never-before-achieved assemblages reduced again to parts in crates with notebook records.

From his out-of-the-way vantage point, Derringer watched the two of them approach leisurely. He’d been assessing his options and accepting his fate. The Princess is going to go where she has to go, and he’s going to let her go. The General’s going to do what he has to do, and he’s going to let him do it. He doesn’t like watching a paycheck walk away, but Karma’s got something for him to do for the team that’ll keep him involved and up his rake. Plus, he gets to ride with the pretty lady. He’s looking forward to this. He still has what he deems a decent chance of getting paid, and of getting by. He’s got a job because he keeps his job, sketchy as things are. What a loopy market these days. At least he’s got his team of specialists.

Arkuda shimmered a little at Derringer as they reached him, a sign of good humor. Karma looked him up and down, letting her smile grow a little as she reconnoitered, “Got your trousers firmly fastened? Pocket kerchief? Stick with me, I’m getting the nicest ride out of here.”

Drift X’s Wendel Harper reached them at that moment, and Karma turned to shake her hand. Wendel addressed Derringer. “So, you’ll be joining us?”

“Gladly,” he said with a tip of his hat. He’d gotten it back from Wendel’s ship.

“We’re going to be making a lot of stops, and you’re next to last. But it’ll be scenic.”

Norwescon Continues

I’m in full swing at Norwescon 44, a return to the in-person convention. It’s great seeing the familiar Seattle and beyond bunch, with the new faces of course, despite being capped at a lower than usual number. There’s still a virtual component by donation, with unlimited invitation. My panel schedule is listed below.

SCHEDULE

Thursday
Is Space Really the Old West?
3:00pm – 4:00pm @ Cascade 11
Dr. Sean Robinson (M), Gabe (G.S.) Denning, Eva L. Elasigue

Creating Diverse Fantasy Cultures
4:00pm – 5:00pm @ Cascade 9 & 10
K Tempest Bradford (M), Amanda Hamon, Eva L. Elasigue

Friday
The Changing Perceptions of AI in Science Fiction
10:00am – 11:00am @ Cascade 9 & 10
David D. Levine (M), Dr. Sean Robinson, Eva L. Elasigue

Reading: Eva L. Elasigue
1:30pm – 2:00pm @ Cascade 3
Eva L. Elasigue (M)

The Bi Erasure, Invalidation, and Trauma Connection
7:00pm – 8:00pm @ Cascade 7 & 8
Torrey Stenmark (M), Sheye Anne Blaze, Sar Surmick, Eva L. Elasigue

Saturday
Including Marginalized Creatives
10:00am – 11:00am @ Olympic 3
Xander Odell (M), Eva L. Elasigue, Annie Carl, Benjamin Gorman

Autograph Session 2
11:00am – 12:00pm @ Evergreen 1&2
Carol Berg, Brenda Cooper, Rhiannon Held, Patrick Swenson, Joseph Malik, Joseph Brassey, Eva L. Elasigue, Louise Marley, Mikko Azul, Connor Alexander, Mike Jack Stoumbos, Nancy Kress, David D. Levine, Lydia K. Valentine, Cat Rambo, Rob Carlos, Jeff Sturgeon

Worldbuilding: Geology
4:00pm – 5:00pm @ Cascade 5 & 6
Colette Breshears (M), Michael ‘Tinker’ Pearce, James “Pigeon” Fielder, Ph.D., Eva L. Elasigue

Join the Resistance
5:00pm – 6:00pm @ Cascade 7 & 8
David D. Levine (M), Carol Berg, Eva L. Elasigue, Shannon Anthony

Sunday
Writing Hacks to Crack Writers Block and Un-stall Stories
10:00am – 11:00am @ Olympic 3
Eva L. Elasigue (M), Dale Ivan Smith, Gordon B. White, Randy Henderson

It’s Gettin’ Real in that Solar System
11:00am – 12:00pm @ Cascade 11
Eva L. Elasigue (M), David D. Levine, Rhiannon Held

Scum and Villainy in Science Fiction
1:00pm – 2:00pm @ Cascade 7 & 8
Kris ‘Pepper’ Hambrick (M), Shweta Adhyam, Eva L. Elasigue

94.5 \ 286

Dragon Food rode a wave of sound on its sudden slide toward the central maelstrom. The sound began to transform a little, a response to the nearness of its other part. The rider transformed with it, taking on the music’s new morphing differentials. Sliding between the waveforms, he became the scintillation in the visualizations, whatever that really meant in the equation of form meeting form. The balancing waveforms met in the fractally opposing space between the two Dragons, if not the technical spatial dimension as usually known. Dragon Food was somewhere inside the concept that was being enacted, like a bole in the wood. He was looking for the eye, the eye, he had to catch the eye of the Dragon in another dimension. He had to be seen.

He rode the music to its howling center, and jumped off into the eye of the storm, where he formed an apparition of his best contextual self, pure expression of all constituting this momentary environment. It was balance, it was introduction, it was newness and selfhood, comprehension and execution, boldness of knowledge; the right ingredients in the right amounts. His self existed, altered and moreso, in a space part of other spaces, connecting to other versions of selves in other dimensions, such as time. Both Dragons became aware of him.

“I am Akralnar. You are Acamar. We have sameness.” With this declarative thought expression of identity, Akralnar’s face emerged in more detail. Without much ado, ‘e ingested the morsel of Dragon Food in the music that belonged as much to er dimension as it did to er twin’s. There was a form of gulp, as full realization developed momentarily, of the delicious and unexpected nature of this happening. Acamar also blinked, fractally. “It was good to be us, my sameness. Now me to mine, and you to yours.” The great sound wound toward its completion.

“Agreed. We really are always us, whatever and wherever we are. I am glad to know us better. Until you.” Everything separated as the music disappeared.