47 \ 229

“I need to find someone in the thick of things,” the Princess explained to Derringer. “It’ll be easier if you’re not attached to me, though if anyone asks you can say that you’re my partner who’s staying with me but not attending the Symposium.”

“In the interests of more complete disguise, do you mind if I get us one of these finely-appointed rooms? All the comforts of home. I do have untraceable money that’s good here, courtesy of people who care about you.” They reached the edge of the main populated areas, halting there while continuing to converse. “You don’t have to worry that I’m going to call anybody to interrupt you or pick you up. I’m doing this with you, and when the time’s right, I’ll collect. Might not even take you out of your way.”

“You really are sensible, and I appreciate that. Sure, honestly a hotel room sounds nice. Though I’m a little surprised you’ll let me out of your sight.”

“Oh, don’t worry about that. Go ahead and find who you need to find.”

“Just wait right here a moment,” said Yrenn Soleil holding up a finger. “Let me get you some of the literature for the room.” Derringer waited in place while the Princess breezed along the tables and racks, picking up one of almost everything official, and a bag to hold it. He accepted this from her when she got back to him. “Enjoy the room. This includes a program and a map, plus lots of other fun details. Get me a key, and you can hand it to me when you magically find me whenever you want.”

“Okay, I will. Good luck.”

“Thanks.” Yrenn dove into the simmering hubbub like she knew what she was doing there, precious fashion item in hand.

Remaining where he stood, Derringer rifled through the literature and brought out the program. He perused it, tucking the rest under an arm. He wasn’t too surprised to see a familiar name on the presentation roster. The ms. Karma Ilacqua, discussing small departments in large companies. Lingering on that sight he smiled, running fingers gently through his short brown ringlets. He looked to his left to see the ms. Karma Ilacqua in a short skirt and a long jacket, walking toward him and looking into his eyes.

Karma stopped at arm’s distance. “Hmm,” she said, “Hmmm. You must be up to something, which I don’t need to know about. You’re not wearing your hat, therefore you’re incognito.” She glanced at the program in his hand. “I see you’re looking at my page. So, you’ve discovered my not so secret identity.”

“Yet again. I was just going to get a room here. Sharing it with someone who’s busy, and not with me.”

“Would you like me to help you navigate this maze of a modern wonder? I’m not too busy right now.”

“I would be much obliged, for I am a simple man.”

34.1 \ 216

This was the first nose-to-nose meeting called since the one after Draig’s induction. Utilization of this extreme-security linkage was a sign of the times. The guided-random location choice combined with time-sync en-route procedure was an expensive huddle, but one which may be necessary in utmost emergency. The current state of affairs had yet to approach that level, but now is the time to make sure the system is in place for this maneuver.

They’d been addressing individual action items for a while, with a few shifts in support focus. There was a rapid-fire efficacy to this form of high-pressure proximity. Discussions at a nose-to-nose resulted in immediate implementation, with personnel at attention and each General’s effective circles ready to mobilize.

Something about this instance was out of anyone’s control, and a little out of control. There was a current catching them all that General Claymore couldn’t fight, despite a mounting pile of internal objections.

Journal Diagram

During the making of this trilogy, one aspect of my process has been using diagrams to illustrate for myself patterns or motions of thought and action, to discern rhythm or structure of how certain story turns feel. It can be like a sieve through which details flow, or a puzzle mat that hints at how they should fit together; these separate steps that make the laying-down or connection of ideas easier, like tiling. The most concise and real explanation is the final product. Here’s another one.