85.1 \ 277

Acamar was somewhere in the atmosphere of this ocean planet, looking way down over scattered tiny islands, and the expanses of ocean between. Dragon Food hung onto some part of er where ‘e wavered, awaiting. At the time when they’d reached this point, a fact was remembered – relations here would be in some ways tense or complex. Rosy Glow, sort of a connector or diplomat at heart, took it upon herself to go in advance and determine an avenue of agreement.

Rosy Glow appeared in a mess hall, where some people were feeling hale and hearty, with hot beverages. She finagled the attendance of any concerned parties by specifying her general matters of import, in certain ways. Those who came to speak with her were selected by their peers for their position of relevance to such matters. The humans found the right words to use to find the people who should be found, and then they came. There were: Princess Ascendant Soleil (AWOL), General Alisandre Draig Claymore (AWOL, possibly removed), Dragon Councillor Arkuda (resigned & secluded), any people with a relation to the Ionian Vortex Anomaly/EGG Incident (such as Captain Wendel Harper), and people with ancillary military allegiance at the Arch.

There was going to have to be some talking and soul searching over the conflicted presence of someone she was sure they would need: the new Dragon. There was history here already, and she would try not to lead this being into a trap. These three new visitors were in somewhat closer relation to the ancient memories of the Red Nexus on how people of this civilization could betray with extreme prejudice. Arkuda, though, knew this era firsthand as well.

Once the group was absorbing the nature of the adjacent presence, and the permission or invitation being sought, the Princess Ascendant turned to the others present and opened the discussion through the caught-breath tension with, “Tell me how you feel.”

84.2 \ 276

The protest volunteers had come from many places, through their contact with Vedani networks. There was an unreachable but not inhospitable meadowy plateau where they rested up, in comfort and secrecy. They were both provided for and prepared. Each group took a throughporting to the aerial river island to do some run-through training, simple, not too taxing. With them went a few organizers who could answer questions, and an Aquari Aegis to prepare them.

Soft Sand, wearing her aegis pendant, rose from where she sat watching the run practice. She went over to Mirya, standing with a Hirylienite observer and a Vedani wireform presence. “They look confident,” said Soft Sand, “and ready.”

They moved on to practicing the flattened group run with increasing surrounding levels of intense Aquariid vibrational manipulation. At practice peak, the rapids seemed to change character entirely, sound whooshing as though raising one mighty voice, light waves glistening off the water in blinding rainbows. This of course would be almost nothing like what they were anticipating – those moments would be situational – but it was a solid check to see if the buffer volunteers could withstand amounts of intentional distortion within a chaotic atmosphere of unstoppable forces. Some found their limits, while many others confirmed their willingness and capability.

Wrapping things up for this session, Mirya found the two in the group who were her actual cousins. She’d been able to identify and communicate with them over the local secret network in their locked-down area. They’d involved other willing relatives, and the bunch made it through the cooperation and readiness checkpoints to serve as backup for their little guy Bassel. He wasn’t going to be in a meka, but this massive situation involved him, and they decided to be supportively present. “How are you feeling?” she asked them.

“Whooo!” said elder cousin Qribu. “I’m going to want to process that later with a nap. When I wake up, it’ll be in a normal world where things like this happen.”

“There are things about this that I hope don’t become normal, but I support you holding onto your remaining sanity with whatever coping mechanisms you can safely employ. You’re my new coping mechanism. I’m just so thankful for your strength, my family. Our boy is amazing. He cares so much, and he’s so good. Thank you for letting the child lead the way.”

“It was time. We were ready to understand the things he wants to teach us. Blood harmony.”

“Sweat symphony.”

84.1 \ 276

The mass of glassy rock tapped beneath their feet, as the humans who’d volunteered for the buffer zone practiced the run they would use to move in groups during entry and exit. Center point leaders would guide group direction toward intended placements. Everyone ran bent over, arms splayed behind them, to increase their aerial visibility. The position reduced the likelihood of becoming an unintended target by a friendly force. “From above, you’d look like a bee doing a bee dance, instead of just a body under a head,” is how Mirya Ayo put it to her group of buffer zone protesters. It was an unusual way to run, as if under low branches while holding weapons, but people figured it out.

They did this training inside of incredible scenery – a pocket floating island within an uncrossable branch of rapids in the off-season Oriya aerial river. Uncrossable, except by the schools of silvers, their leathery disclike bodies making twirling extended leaps. The island they stood on was made of the kind of stone with a unique planetary magnetogravitational relationship. Floating veins of this stone created the conditions for the aerial river. The configuration of other giant gems nearby caused the rapids to whoosh around them like a pocket with an opening, keeping them unseen.

83.3 \ 275

Her speech translated in the natural way that a rosy glow translates to any language. It was a manner similar to the dragon’s, in the way that a new dragon’s speech is still generally dissimilar. They are yet unaccustomed to suiting themselves to interaction with different beings, and can only be met closer to their own terms.

it’s you, you’re the one
she met. i can tell because
your eyes were in her eyes.
i see these things. we see you
and recognize you as yourself,
hello. i believe that you have
a role, a part in something
that i know – far and deep,
but near enough, if you
come with us. it is my
guess that you know
what i mean, and it would
be my pleasure to show you
to your domain, for it would
also fulfill my part. you’re
the new dragon, hi.

The between-space swirled, changing what it was between; traveling, in a way, as their forward intentions shifted. Acamar could see them, now, recognizing them as individuals like erself while unlike anything else. Kao-Sidhe are only visible when recognized. The uniqueness factor was also common between the two peoples, Dragons and Kao-Sidhe – one is not like the others, and Acamar understood this upon seeing the two of them.

oh – your kind are so
interesting. what are you,
really? no – don’t tell me.
as for what you speak
of – it is there! i knew it,
i know what it is without
knowing what it is yet.
i had a feeling it was
there, and already
wish to understand
it more. let us away,
lead on.

Dragon Food was irresistibly interested in and attracted toward Dragons, but could, often as not, manage not to get eaten.

let us, yes!

83.2 \ 275

She was zipping through enfoldments of space-concept betwixt the existence of one rosy glow to the next – feeling other familiar phenomena in passing, something in her searching for something, and perhaps something else. Rosy Glow went from familiarity to increasing familiarity until she collided joyously with someone most familiar: Dragon Food! Wherever they were together, there was a happiness.

Then they traveled together, as they were often wont to do, with some purpose, and without. With certain purposes more circumspect, the indirect route is the most direct, and the one they were happiest to take. Time together was hardly time, with them. So the route changed to career through their coexistent universe, broad enough to wander, with one eye on the prize and one eye to the skies. What were they looking for? They’d know when they found it, and why.

It found them, naturally, though ‘e didn’t know them as themselves, only the combination of their sensations. Acamar may or may not have been hungry, but Dragons get hungry when they see Dragon Food. Dragon Food was aware of, and proud of, his appeal. When Acamar’s gaze fixed onto them, where were they? It was hard to tell – between one place and the next, or the next, now of fixed location. Just then Rosy Glow remembered something, and sensed something, and knew that she should speak.