126 \ 318

He’d been assessing the routes according to the indications given him by the Davyjones crab’s luminescent map of the currents. From Draig Claymore’s study of the onboard nautical maps of Foshan, he’d ascertained various destinations. He estimated the logistics of the Foundationals who had been targeting the Arch – where they were likely to go for fuel or supply, and their pursuit pattern possibilities for the area. Most of Foshan was one island here, an island there; imagining the potentialities was, in this case, more like a chaseboard game than usual.

As they sped through the abyss, Draig was working through the question as to what he would do to attract the attention of their ideologically-rooted menace. He felt sure that from his position, this would be his best contribution to a clear path for all other necessary movements. He thought about all the people who had just left this building of a vessel: Princess Ascendant Soleil, the scientists, the staff, the directions they were headed, and any possible targeting motivations aimed at them specifically – or towards the place in motion he currently controlled, with the help of Woollibee & Woollibee and the cleaner Saer, who knew where all the supplies were stashed.

They operated quietly, terse except for functional exchange under the razor’s edge of tension. It was exciting as well as serious; there was admittedly something giddy about having nearly sole possession and full command of this gargantuan monolithic achievement, while understanding that it ultimately could be abstracted into another piece on the chaseboard.

Claymore thought about when they would surface, where they would be. While he hadn’t been under for anywhere near as long as the staff and crew, he dreamed about sunlight and wondered about the weather, looking forward to seeing any sky. Relaxing for a moment into skyward thoughts, he projected further, beyond the sky, the directions of space here, the stars – then he remembered that he currently held a key to something out there, too.

That gave him chills, and a shudder. Was it time for that? Would that serve; would people be ready, was the balance of events right… it was a game-changing wild card. He was already out of a job, technically. He couldn’t be more fired, though perhaps further prosecuted, depending on the outcome. Draig barely looked at the thought, just acknowledging it was there. Would they listen to him? Moreso, he believed, if it served them. If he journeyed into that space outside of space, so dreamlike to him when he’d found himself pulled into it, what might he find there now? Who would he speak with, what might they demand, what might open, what might crumble, and where. He knew people who could be crushed by the weight of this ponderance, but his mind was thoroughly accustomed to it. He navigated these pathways as he breathed, with the calm of gazing upon nature. This was a kind of nature, the nature of events.

Meanwhile, they moved as if part of the water thanks to the strong, sure swiftness of providence.

125.2 \ 317

Without saying anything, Soleil took a seat next to Pepita, who offered her head for pats. One of the girls, who hadn’t offered a name, addressed her. “So, you know about what went down right, since you’re using the back-end chat.” Soleil nodded. “It was so wild. Everything’s different now, and we’re glad. We know what’s really going on, and people should know. When we get together for this, it’s one of the ways we don’t forget, how we figure out the words – if we get in the flow, they just come out, and it sounds as real and true as it feels. It’s about the reality we’re living in, and if we say it right people seem to figure things out on their own.” Soleil nodded again while the dog bonded with her. The group resumed and started laying down rhymes.

…as I was thinking about it,
I started to realize
that I needed to believe
what was in front of my own eyes
that the things I didn’t know
were what was weighing me down
that I needed to grow
if I wanted to stick around

They passed the beat around so each person could have a say. One of the teens set up a little camera, and Soleil allowed her transmitted image to be recorded. They got solid clips of everyone.

…people can’t always face it
when they did something wrong
facing mistakes to fix them
means you have to be strong
surrendering to the truth
doesn’t mean playing along

Soleil actually did join in a little here and there, saying what she knew and what she felt. Something about this medium called for self-honesty, and she was ready for that in this moment. It was just what she needed. She dove into this rare environment, speaking with the a frank transparency and adaptable vulnerability that resulted in rhyme. They nodded back, and it fueled their continuing conversation.

…sometimes people are people
even when we think they’re not
gotta get over ourselves,
in case we forgot
it’s up to us,
we could have a little or a lot
we can give the respect we deserve,
and deserve the respect we got

Words that approached the heart of the matter were still mysteriously cryptic in the way that some things can only be known by those who know them.

…I did what I did
for a world I can live in
loving this life
means that I can’t just give in
we don’t need these poisons
we gotta make better choices

The Princess Ascendant in disguise reached inside to find a word for the wise, for those in the know, something worth mentioning to impart while she could. They welcomed her say, trading beats, rhymes, looks, and laughs for a while.

…and what if this is all I could do
with more than anyone else,
could I do enough for you?
do I live up to my name,
did I change this game
for the people who needed it changed
will tomorrow still come
now that it’s been rearranged
will I know, if I get old,
that I chose the right way?
either way,
it’s me that’s here today

125.1 \ 317

The half-burnt shell of a house shielded a metal drum fire. It was the deep end of dusk. Sitting on some vehicle seats around the fire were four older teens dressed in darks, and a dog. They shared snacks and drinks and thoughts. They heard someone coming down the side stairs.

Isten had told his mother Leyga that he would be out for while. Acknowledging his new level of earned maturity, she rarely inquired anymore as to where. He was glad he didn’t have to lie; this wasn’t a good kid spot, but his friends weren’t the bad kind. They were the bravest, the tightest. They’d done something hard together, and stood the test. They felt right about what they’d done, but they still weren’t sure if authority would come after them, if it was dangerous for them to see each other – even though right now, they were the only ones who understood what they’d just been through. Whoever else might see the invite probably shared at least some of their experiences. The windows – the puzzles – the net – the hills – the portals – the training – laying down in front of armed forces under Aquarii at full blast – the Vedani – the meadow – and now what?

He threw his arms up when he saw them, and the dog came over to frolic around him a little. “Puppita!” He ruffled the dog’s noggin, and went to sit with a girl on a two-seater who leaned in and gave him a kiss. The group was beatboxing in turn, getting warmed up when another person started coming down the stairs.

They turned and saw a woman, of young teacher age but dressed like they were, with a bandana over her face beneath grey eyes. Pausing a moment, they hailed her, and she waved a black-gloved hand. There was something familiar about her. “Did we see you on the plateau?” asked Isten.

Anonymous Soleil shook her head. “No, I heard about this from the chatposting.”

“Well welcome, we were just about to get started. Pick a spot, Pepita over here is friendly, and feel free to jump in any time you want.”

WFC Underway

I had an enjoyable story reading, and New Orleans has been a wonder. Here’s a bunch of us at con, including William Ledbetter and Beth Dawkins.

And here I’ve found dear fearless leader-adventurer of the Emergency Circus (among other troupes), Clay Mazing! I mentioned the Emergency Circus at my Artists & Authors panel in Helsinki in 2017, relating to inter-arts collaborations, just before they mobilized to volunteer and entertain in post-hurricane Puerto Rico.

124 \ 316

“There’s something I have to do next,” spoke the Princess to her space sled. “I mean, there are a lot of things that could demand my attention right now, but I feel like there’s something hidden close at hand, an important call. Do you know of anything in particular? Is anything obvious to you, Moonshadow?”

Moonshadow proudly delved through its multivarious net connections and system linkups. It displayed to her a familiar name:

“Something from Uixtr? He must be busy. I wonder what it is.” Moonshadow flashed some excited colors, so it must be good. For a moment, Soleil looked around her at the trees of this otherwise inaccessible mountain plateau overlooking Alisandre Capital. Across the way was the stone atop Mt. Kairas, and in the other direction was her landing meadow with its backpacker’s trail. It was just starting to turn dusky in the sky, with only the first star shining. She looked back down at the display, which showed a list of activity nodes, triple-highlighted in the way that meant this information was actively circulating in the aetherscape, and had been noted by some. The top node was dynamic, receiving current contribution. The metadata, Uixtr’s and others’, expressed fondness and trust. Important people were congregating – in the way that Vedani express importance in depth of relevance rather than through hierarchy. They could be anybody, but Vedani knew them and deemed them notable, including the opinion of one who in tense times had shown her respect from under threat.

This was crucial enough for her time right now. They would be humans; here, in this city; and she wouldn’t know who they are. There was a coordinate, with a closed-network invitation. Moonshadow explained that this was a new sidenet, created for – she might have only just seen the news, this happened while they were both in the Arch – it was created for a huge action that actually went off, with Vedani and kids and Aquarii and people from all over who did something to a secret lab and neutralized the Imperium’s bioweapons, which it had used on itself. Moonshadow said all this rather glibly; it could comprehend events, but without the engagement that would create shock unless the moment were present. It still preferred mostly to use text on its display, though it could use sound and the languages it had learned to speak aloud with Rosy Glow for occasional emphasis.

She should go in some form of soft disguise, so as not to freak them out, but prepared to reveal her identity. It was coming down to the wire now – things were coming to a head for important decision-making, and she would lay her ace if it was called for. What would she need to say, and what would she need to learn? It seemed right to acknowledge a dynamic element, which told her to be ready for anything; which, she should be anyway – now more than ever.