109 \ 301

The wide, elevated meadow full of people was in a somewhat festive mood. They’d just done something harrowing and hard, but they had done it. They believed in themselves that much at least. Captain Wendel Harper’s runners from the field had been tying up the passenger organization so people could get aboard and they could go. The fuels money was there, she believed them. This was actually a nice place for a breather. There was a mist of flowers over the ground. Flowers. It was just her again on the road, plus this next bunch.

Wendel had been called in to redistribute people in an inaccessible meadow. Vedani throughports had already sent some of them home. If this worked out, Wendel might be hiring more shuttle power to help, and this could go faster. Sending everybody somewhere specific wasn’t as easy as doing it the way they’ve done it before; conundrums like this are situationally unique, as tend to be their solutions. Only so much could safely be done at a time, given the energy resources. They’d ported out a fleet of soldiers all at once, but that had been improvised on the spot with the emergency inspiration of a unique set of embodied forces. Vedani formulae had to respect some laws of nature, so things progressed steadily apace. People were doing well enough hanging in there, prepared and lighter-hearted, even celebratory. There were no Vedani in this meadow, just humans. They did all know Vedani, and confirmed that the ride was called for them.

There were still a lot of people left here, but not too many. That’s what the encoded request for service had said when it came to her through Drift X. The message popped up through an obscure node of the system that she’d barely remembered was active. It was written in knowledgable cargo/passenger format, but came over a Vedani signal. They had her number, alright. So did a lot of people, and Wendel usually didn’t mind too much. So, she took the weird job, going somewhere weird to take some people home. Long way to come for just another forty people (out of a lot), but they’re the next most important forty people, all going to their own homes. It’d be some work.

She’d just taken people to safety, now she was taking them home. There was lots of hugging and exchanging of information. The sun was shining. Moments like these, she loves her job. Wendel has high job satisfaction, though. This is when it’s simple. This is when it’s easy to be proud of herself.

108 \ 300

– I perceive a number of obstacles in this consideration.
– There must be a way around that.
– Very little precedent.
– I’m balancing considerations.
– Whether or not we can will have to depend.

After expanses of creating a new mind to understand things he was seeing along his journey while being something totally other than himself, this was actually familiar. There was a cadence to these perspectives that resided within the Kao-Sidhe realm. Dragon Food was remembering again who he was and what he was, something that always came back to him if he forgot a little while mostly disincorporate.

The sound of this group was not squabbling, exactly – more like jocular and determined divergence of opinion. A pastime for some, a passion for others. Dragon Food had occasionally joined in himself, being a personage of at times unique perspective begging to be flexed. They would draw him in when he had particular relevance, and he frankly enjoyed the multi-faceted and contradictory nature of what might be called truth, but is more often a common ground. The ground. He forgot about the ground! Dragon Food loves the ground, he sometimes finds himself there. He gravitated toward the common ground being found.

– And if they should find it thus…
– It could be seen differently.
– It’s time to resolve a longstanding issue.
– The dangers are clear.

Dragon Food breached the membrane of understanding, and the decontextualized comments gained their background and discussion history. He prodded his being and discovered that he was completely himself again. He knew they were talking about matters of great recent interest, in which he was deeply involved. The bodies in discussion had had the presentiment for some time that they would be called in on this, and had made it their business already. They were enjoying themselves, and welcomed Dragon Food to join in the Fray.

– Please reaffirm the agreement.
– I agree to disagree.
– Good! Let’s begin again.

107 \ 299

In the resounding blackness of the fluid abyssal bottom that the eldest Davyjones called home, there was a ripple of strange noise. It was also familiar, perhaps the echo of a voice from a chamber plus a specific, known heartbeat. It was that thing, that structure, moving in an unusual fashion. The dragonspeaker was inside it, the strategic human Draig.

There were no refracted wavelengths from it, just a couple sparkles of electricity on the streams. Still just motion in the water, there would be light soon – that thing is very bright. The Davyjones could tell by the movement where they were looking to go, and how far, and how well they were doing. There were a number of currents that radiated from here that he knew and could feel. The massive building-sized boltcutter claws sent off a thundering few beats of aqueous percussion.

This subtly noticeable vibration reached the Arch in motion, and Draig Claymore recognized the feel of those stony gates crashing shut nearby. It was the inimitable, unsurpassed, majestic crustacean dragon friend, the Eldest Davyjones. What was he doing here? Upon his request, they darkened the Arch except for operating information. There was a lot of ocean on this planet, and here they were, crossing paths. Draig could think of a few possible ways to go from here, and was balancing likely propulsion allowance within the meteoric depths. They might want to see the Davyjones if they could, if only to dodge its gigantic bulk.

A light kindled in the darkness, a shade of blue that Draig recalled from the time that the Dragon Arctyri had introduced them. This time, as they neared enough to discern it, there were only some visible parts of the intricate lines of bioluminescence on the Eldest. Draig saw the convergence point of these lines, as well as their radiant angles. He understood. They had come to an understanding during that introduction, and it was still there. Judging from where they’d been going, Claymore could figure out where those lines went. Those were currents, in the facing direction. He did not doubt the Davyjones. Draig instinctively determined their course with this. The Woollibees set the Arch as requested, and they were rewarded with a surge of following current. Draig cackled, and pounded his knuckles on the viewing pane in a chipper answering beat.

The Eldest Davyjones perceived the rhythmic answer, and blinked his eye bouquets at the calculus curve of the passing Arch. With one crash of a claw, the encounter was concluded. He returned to spinning a profound eternity of deep blind contemplations on the great ocean.

106 \ 298

Dragon Food had always been eventually expelled on an out-breath, after spending some time being eaten and fully digested, in the way that happens inside a Dragon, for Dragon Food. A Dragon is like a plane between planes, and this digestion was like becoming a part of every innumerable plane touching this Dragon’s intraplane of elemental existence. Expulsion velocity occurred in rate of experience; interestingly, of course interestingly, velocities varied as Dragon Food careened in a personal form of interdimensional propulsion.

During this ‘time’ of being part of the Dragon’s breath, he/‘e (he’e?) was still part of a part of the Dragon, on a draconid meta-analytical level. While ‘moving’ (which was also being) along a course through the element, the Kao-Sidhe’s existence was in the form of the element, and still in the invert-D bas-relief pattern imprint gestalt of Dragon Food. So Dragon Food existed as himself, with little control except flight posture, in the form of another’s existence in the shared set of tonal keys and ability effects.

And so there were places, experienced in this specific manner; maybe not even as a place, but as an aspect of a place and the realm that encompasses. It may not even be a place at all, but something that happens in many places – sort of like a Dragon’s extended elemental circulatory system. Betimes, Dragon Food would be exhaled with some greeting of awareness, sometimes not. This time it was an energetic all-encompassing sigh of remembrance of all that had just passed; Dragon Food was always glad to hear that sound of the moment after a really excellent meal.

Akralnar was as new in existence as er twin Acamar; between hatching and the meeting of the self, the story of this one was unknown and undoubtedly different. Dragon Food was now a part of a small piece of that story, and knew Akralnar and er element through this part. Describing and understanding the newly hatched element would take people some time, but they had certainly discovered it and been discovered by it. This was the new universe, once again.

Dragon Food recalled while in constant transformation that it was during the experiment, when the two Dragons met their same-self, that he was eaten by an extradimensional as an appealing piece of music which literally transcended dimensions, making the same possible for Dragon Food. He wasn’t worried much about translation of being, since he was still himself. If eaten by a Dragon, Dragon Food is Dragon Food. Once the Dragon’s breath dissipated and he was no longer a part of it, he believed that his being could only resolve in his own dimensional set… surely! Meanwhile, Dragon Food was everywhere within the breath, swirling and unfurling.

105 \ 297

“It is I, my good bros of the snack den,” announced Derringer in leisure suit glory, with a strolling gesture of magnificence after having been let in to the only occupied office suite in the small building. “Have I got a list of links for you. We’re going to read some diaries, go through drawers of underthings, and send them their underwear in a gift box with a note of introduction and a token of our affectionate esteem.”

Fred DeWalt turned from the bank of security monitors he was maintaining. “That sounds ethically dubious.”

“Alas, it’s the line of work we’ve gotten ourselves into,” Derringer said, shaking his head helplessly.

“Have a seat,” gestured Chad Dremel. “Have a slice. Tell us what kind of trouble and/or opportunity we’ve got on our hands, thanks to you.”

Derringer took a seat in front of an active screen in Dremel’s ceiling-mounted setup. “I’m too excited to eat yet. It involves ladies.”

“Utterly terrifying, yet I am not surprised,” quipped Fred.

“Pull up a chair next to me so I can show you how to do this, while I can remember it all.” Chad and Fred did so, facing Derringer’s screen. “So, list.” With a finger he selected a random item. “Public address.” He opened a business page of what looked to be an outgoing life coach. Derringer pointed to the corner of his list, where an address endtag was written. “Secret portal. Some might not have it.” They added the address tag, which took them to a page with a background and nothing else. “Go to the source code.” The page switched from graphics to code. Derringer pointed at the other corner of his list sheet, where there was an alphanumerical string. “Search for this string. It bookends a sequence specific to the site. Record or copy it. Get the admin contact from the source code, and send them this sequence in an encrypted message. Use the subject line: ACTIVATE PORTAL. Then something will happen, with which we need not concern ourselves.”

“And all of these sites belong to… ladies?” Chad worked his logic.

“Should we be worried?” Fred muttered almost under his breath.

“No, this won’t come back to haunt us at all,” Derringer said with loud confidence. “This is all we were asked to do, by our employer and associate. I was not warned of any potential repercussions whatsoever. We have top level authorization, and I am told this is programmatically consensual, and does not constitute a breach. Unlike an actual panty raid.”

“Wow… Splendid.” Chad Dremel had been rapidly flipping through the page links. “They’re all gorgeous and powerful.”

“We have nothing to fear,” Derringer said soothingly. “And now I will have that slice.”