52.1 \ 234

With her impassioned stint as a botanical researcher reaching its zenith here, Aelrn Lkcd took a moment to appreciate the live workings of her lab. Previously only a project in the aetherscape, this amazing concept was being given its best chance with the resources and motivation of the allied effort.

This was a possibility to turn tragic casualties into collaborative progress of understanding. Not to make a wrong right, but to get good from bad, maybe just one slightly more beautiful future. This is the kind of scenario the Vedani preferred, and had believed possible in the beginning when they first discovered people similar to themselves in alliance with others even more different. Now, the Vedani were choosing to fight for self-preservation from a civilization that had shown potential to turn successfully hostile on a species-threatening scale. Some, like Aelrn, were yet convinced that the future could be better in concert than in conflict. What she’d been discovering could make that possibility nearer, making amends and bonds during the process of resolution. The aetheric Symbias trees expressed total acceptance and support of this intention.

From the curve in the room where she stood observing, the lead researcher watched the different stations. There were the test patches of soil, large enough for two to four people to sit upon the imported earth. There they tested and refined soil-to-aetherscape readings. It looked like people sitting on the dirt and patting it occasionally, sometimes sinking their fingers into it. Aelrn closed her eyes and peered into the aetherlab, where each pat of the soil elicited sonic dialogue from the energetic Symbias treeforms. They pulsed with brightness, especially around the roots, some of which terminated in a carefully coded, self-iterating pocket of formulae. These pockets were encased by the electric outline of a spike.

Opening her eyes, Aelrn set her gaze on the long bench of toolforms receiving refinements. Here lay spikes of corresponding shape, which themselves pulsed as they received information from the formulae responding to the energetic trees. These daggerlike spikes were hollow, eight-sided for specific resonances, with a chamber of intersecting rings at the top of a hilt that could be gripped by the mekasuits. Two engineers were there working on these round upper chambers, laying light circuitry and pressurizing elemental vapors. This tool should pulse when one of the others pats the soil. The prototypes were receiving, but the connection needed work in order to be strong, sure, and complex.

Confusion Panels

Upcoming:

— Sunday 12:00 GMT – Xenos! Aliens, in SFChannel 5 [The Infinite Library], Track: Media
Type: PanelMike Brooks, Robert S Malan, Allen Stroud, Eva L. Elasigue, Shiv Ramdas

What’s the magic number of aliens in sci-fi? Zero, like Firefly? All of them, like Star Wars? Somewhere in between? What are the pros and cons of featuring aliens in science fiction? Do they encourage us to examine our humanity in contrast to them, or does this promote an idea of “”humanity”” as a homogenous mass?

— Sunday 14:00 – Readings: Eva Elasigue and Neil Williamson, Reading Space 2, Track: Books & Lit
Type: Reading Neil Williamson, Eva L. Elasigue

Eva Elasigue example works: Bones Of Starlight Neil Williamson example works: Queen Of Clouds, The Memoirist

— Monday 13:00 – Kaffeeklatsch: Eva Elasigue, Klatsch Space 1, Track: Books & Lit
Type: Discussion Group Eva L. Elasigue

Kaffeeklatsch

Passed:

— Friday 18:00 – The Magical Musical Mystery Machine Tour! Channel 5 [The Infinite Library]Track: Media
Type: Panel Dan Abnett, Eva L. Elasigue, Michael Carroll

Comics with music, and comics turning into music; everything from 2000AD’s Lawless The Musical to Jem & The Holograms to Spiderman Turn Off The Dark

51.3 \ 233

The four of them hollered with laughter. Human dimensions tickle, and getting here was hilariously weird for all of them. They continued dissolving, or resolving, in giggles as they broke their group hug and started looking around. Captain Wendel touched parts of Drift X as she moved, and they were solid, yet still alive (though in the more familiar way).

They were parked in a glen surrounded by tall, straight trees. A bright noontime sky shone golden-hued, and the three moons told Wendel they were on Primatris. In the distance across the meadow sat the Clearpath, looking scrubbed. The sight took her breath away, and she floundered toward the hatch and hit the opener. Continuing to peer out, she saw that people were bringing firewood into the ship. Leiv’s delivering wood? That can’t be earning him much, but the food’s probably good.

As the hatch finished opening and Wendel spilled out of it, she saw Leiv step out of his hold. It gave her the silliest grin as she broke into a run. Her limbs don’t normally flap around this much when she’s running, but okay. Relieved laughter sobbed gently from her as she flapped a hand up in the air while galloping toward him. Heads turned as they just noticed the ship there, and Leiv saw her. He’d just taken an armload of wood, and he took a step toward her and dropped it to one side. Wendel must have been running pretty fast, because Leiv had just reached out his hand when her outstretched hand met his. Leaning against that hand like a solid wall of safety, Wendel drooped panting and grinning, and he softened like he could finally relax for a minute.

51.2 \ 233

“Can you also think about what you think he’d be doing right now?” Greezmo said this as they peered attentively at the ship inhaling the scent of the necklace.

“Sure I can, that’s natural to me.” If he had his ship (which he should), in this state of emergency he might be helping people that the system would overlook (since he’s a free agent). Country living is where he came from, so that’s where he might be. People who could use the help but only ask each other for it. He finds a way to become one of them if he isn’t already. He would listen to find out what they needed, and then do what was simplest for him at the best possible price. She choked up a little on these many reasons why she loves him. “I think it’s helping,” Greezmo said reassuringly. “Of course your guesses can’t be exact, but they’ll be as close as close can be, and we have some tendencies of probability to get that even closer, close enough but not so close that we land on him… so to speak.”

Rosy Glow drifted over to them, assumed human similitude evaporating from her traits, releasing her from gravity. “Maybe think of some of his favorite places. You don’t have to tell us. Thoughts are able to contain more information than words, saying thoughts only tells a part of them. Favorite places.” Wendel let her eyes fall closed, and took a breath the way Leiv would take a deep breath when they were somewhere beautiful, or when he talked about someplace he loved or that felt like home. There were lots of these recollections in her memory, some more clearly visualized than others. She just let them all filter through her mind without worrying whether she was right, just a little happier to feel so close to him, as close as anyone.

The Jiggler’s fluffy checkered harlequin rustled like the pages of a schedule as they too approached. “And how about also, now, think about why you want to find him.” A silent sob pulsed beneath the smile that grew on Wendel. Because a lot has happened. Because when we’ve lived to tell the tale, we tell each other soonest. Twice now she might not have come back to him, and that’s once more than she usually lets go by. She settled into this longing, which seemed to stretch into infinity, and they too seemed to stretch into infinity. The ship stretched, they all stretched, everything stretched. As they stretched, the Kao-Sidhe clasped each other, and Wendel, Drift X’s hose and the necklace between them in a mighty group hug that also stretched to encompass an enormous space of emotion. The stretching flattened everything, like a focusing laser field; everything was still there, but flat like a carpet. That flattening also felt fast – like as they stretched, they moved. So this was a magic carpet ride, but reality was the carpet. The flatness flickered in frames which slowed down gradually like the wheel on a slot machine. Wendel still felt her breath and her heart, slow and timeless, then – pop. The film strip cut. The sound of a huge exhale, and they were somewhere again.

51.1 \ 233

“Time is different to me than it is to you; I’d say it’s different to us than it is to you, but it’s different to me than it is to anyone. I am made of time. I have all day, I have all the time in the world, and time is never time at all. To me, it’s like a plasmic fluid, moments and phenomena suspended within it, with slow and fast currents that bring things away and around again. It is possible to move things around a little without them ever feeling out of place. Certain aspects of the human being, though, are not very chronoflexible. Believe me when I say I will be mindful of your limitations. I’ve learned from my mistakes, some of them legendary.” This ramble emanated from the Jiggler within a swimming liminal bandwidth that was now the way of reality.

Since the initial zoom into a place that was not quite a place, Wendel had left the cockpit, now that the ship was locomoting by different means. Greezmo said that kind of steering wouldn’t work, and Wendel chose to believe them since it’s no good trying to make an engine do what it can’t. Now the captain and the Kao-Sidhe passengers sat comfortably facing each other on the floor of the hold. The ship swayed rhythmically as though taking gentle steps on very long legs, legs that walked from one landscape to another. With one step the scene outside the viewports looked like mountaintops, the next a moon tundra, another a river channel. This all made sense, flowing like one step after the next. Greezmo occasionally got up to go around patting and whispering to Drift X. The ship purred.

“Where are we going now?” Wendel thought to ask amid the wonder of it.

“I was just considering that, and I have an idea,” replied Rosy Glow, tearing her gaze from the viewports. She got up and went to where Greezmo was actively snuggling into a corner, and they whispered and nodded back and forth. Rosy Glow came back to a spot by Wendel. “Do you have an item of his, or that reminds you strongly of him, or comes from him?”

After just a moment, Wendel blushed and smiled a little. “I can think of something. Want me to bring it here?”

Rosy Glow nodded, Greezmo nodded eagerly, and the Jiggler nodded along. “Show us!” was said with a curiosity that sensed something juicy. Continuing to blush enjoyably about this show-and-tell moment, Wendel went to the compartment where she stored the necklace Leiv gave her that she only wore when they were staying in together. The chainwork was beautiful, and stones sparkled in their filigree when she lifted it from the pouch that replaced the clamshell case the Princess utilized for her ruse. Wendel thought she could probably find another one of those. She secretly, tentatively smelled the necklace, deciding it was fine and enjoying a little reminiscence. It was as much his as it was hers, and she knows that he thinks of it now and again.

“Here it is,” she said upon returning, respectfully lifting it from the pouch for them to see. The Kao-Sidhe surrounded it with appreciation and assessment.

“Yeah, we can try this,” Greezmo said, lifting a suspenseful gloved finger as they drifted toward the warp woodstove. “Don’t worry,” they said reassuringly before promptly popping off a tube that Wendel would never disconnect while in transit. Stalling the captain’s alarm with, “I said don’t worry,” Greezmo beckoned her over. Drift X continued to lope through an endless scroll of locales.

Laying the necklace face up on the pouch, Wendel carried it over in her hands. Greezmo gestured toward the mouth of the hose, and Wendel brought it there. “Just don’t try this in your home dimension,” grumbled the gremlin through their respirator. Wendel could feel a gentle current of air intake over her hands, and the oddity struck her of having her ship do a sniff search from her sex necklace. Only here in nowhere land, surely, with these no-body people. Her mind could accept it if she didn’t try too hard to sort it all out, and she withdrew from the dithering of such an attempt.