104 \ 296

inferno / \ hidden / \ suppressed / \ combust

There was a draconid melee in an unaffiliated corner of the sublimated Level Plaine, a particular kind of interaction that suited certain elements in certain situations. It was a chaotic simultaneity that tossed various merits of ideas to the top level of awareness, but in retrospect could be re-examined from many sides as a complete dimensionality. The complexity of this one classed it as a concrescence, and Arkuda had decided to join in on this intensity, upon its invitation to er consciousness.

focus / \ channel / \ ignite / \ excite

Arkuda now dreamed in cross-temporal observance, amidst flowers in an unpopulated living corner. The living memory engaged the senses of comprehension like the lingering vapors of incense after the ember is gone, something one can still describe.

balance / \ wind / \ coordination / \ fuel

The Red Nexus ancients had apparently not been eating any Humans since returning from exile. Whether that was a strategic wait, or because they were receiving sufficient direct human communication, was unclear. They were entertaining possibilities for new modes of interaction, more open-mindedly than Arkuda had expected – maybe even moreso than the entrenched authority in the Pan-Galactic Imperium, who had already lost more in refusing to discuss rebalancing power structures by acknowledging new peoples.

scour / \ cleanse / \ renew / \ regrow

Perhaps the Red Nexus were being changed by their current alliance with Hirylienites, Aureny, Vedani, and Kao-Sidhe; having one’s value appreciated can change the nature of destructive opposition when facing others.

reset / \ rebuild / \ reorganize / \ revelation

There was another cross-temporality adjoining to Arkuda’s stream of consciousness. It was abutting to er sphere of rumination, sublingual from the Dragon’s vantage but distinctly verbal. This energetic attention was invited to involvement with these matters. The sunlight Dragon could neither break through to listen without a beckoning, nor ignore it.

103.3 \ 295

“I actually just finished my drink,” confessed the Hoopoe.

“Want another one on me? I’ve been looking forward to a smoothie.”

The Hoopoe shrugged. “Sure.” He ordered a superfood shot, and Ravl Pliskin got a smoothie. They went to sit at the side of the bar overlooking the beach.

“Mmm,” said the executive as his berry & pitch-syrup blend hit his tongue. “Hey – I’m sorry we’re asking you to hide right now. It was not our intent to put you in any mortal danger greater than was already intrinsic to the project.”

The Hoopoe sipped his ultra-green shot good-naturedly. “I stand to gain a lot – despite not having had much of a choice when you set your proposal, that took me some working out to get over.”

“I just gave you a chance to cash out before the game turned against you, and hopefully the outcome is that we both win. I’m satisfied with the talent you’ve brought to the table.” Ravl took a really long suck on his smoothie and finished it with a sigh. “Delicate dealing on our hands right now. Some of the potential advances we’re holding could change the balance of current tensions, which is why we’re trying to keep you all out of it as much as possible. But we’re also working out the profit scheme. Maybe bananas, so hang in there.”

“I’m imagining a banana dance out there on the sand.”

“I like it.”

“Just remember, I’m still a young man. I’m not ready to die. I’m ready to party.”

“Yeah. Let’s do the party. Until then, you don’t have to worry. Call me Ravl.”

103.2 \ 295

A ground car rolled up to the smoothie bar, a comfortable luxury model. The Hoopoe had this feeling like he knew who it was, though he hadn’t been expecting anyone. He’d just handed back the phone.

Someone stepped out of the back of the car on this side, an athletic man with long brown hair tied back at the nape of his neck. Dressed casually but well, he placed a pair of shades on his face and walked towards the board-built establishment. He waved at the Hoopoe as though they were friends. The Hoopoe guessed that they might be.

Strolling up to the young man, the new arrival stuck out his hand. “The Hoopoe?” he asked to verify.

“Why do you ask?” he replied, shaking the offered hand.

“I’m your boss. Ravl Pliskin. This is your performance review.” The young musician paused in confusion. Was there more on the table after this? The Hoopoe sort of hoped not, and it showed on his face. Pliskin cracked up a little. “Really though, I just thought that you deserved a face-to-face progress wrap-up. So I made the time.” He looked around and waved at Lola at the counter.

103.1 \ 295

“Someone on the phone for you by the name of Pleiades Nutts. Do you want to answer?” The bartender looked inquiringly at the patron on the end gazing out through the window. Her name was on her tab, and he’d seen her a few times.

“Oh, sure.” Marian Waters accepted the cordless and turned away from the bar to talk. “Hey you, rascal.” Back during the research, she and the boy had a lunchtime talk about their respective deep histories. He’d given her permission to call him rascal. Marian was one among the crew who had made him their little brother.

“Do you ever feel like things are too quiet?”

“Of course, sometimes.”

“…I like it, actually. I fight back with beautiful noise that I call music.”

“I do wonder about what’s going on out there. Like what they’re doing with that place, and maybe where she is and what she’s doing.” They spoke without defining context, as though the other person were supplying the details. The place was mostly empty at this early afternoon hour, so Marian didn’t rush the conversation.

“Haha, yeah, it’s all a big mystery now.” The Hoopoe had his glib tone on the level.

“We live lives of mystery,” replied the older woman in a dramatically wise voice – actually her nature documentary voice.

“That’s what I needed from you when I called. A mountaintop perspective.”

“You actually bring them out. I’m glad you’re forgiving of the occasional pontification.”

“I’m known for that myself, in other circles. So…” the Hoopoe trailed off, aimlessly content, “… I guess that’s all for now.” Marian Waters smiled as she hung up the phone and handed it back to Joe the bartender. She hadn’t expected to be in Dalmeera, but when they decided on her location she was glad she could visit some of her favorite weird fish again.

The Hoopoe steadily sucked on a smoothie. The nice lady at the counter let him use the phone as much as he liked. Next, the young man called Steinman, who also accepted the call from Pleiades Nutts. “So, living the dream?”

“It’s a dream, alright.” Arys was all gin and wry and other things in the right amounts.

“How long do you think we’re going to get by like this?”

“Have you been watching the normal news?”

“I don’t know, a little?”

“Well, we might Be Able To relax for a while. There’s a lot of moving and shifting going on, everywhere. For now, it’s not us. We got a really good package. We’re lucky people.” The mathematical programmer felt a detached sympathy for the boy’s masked restlessness. “You got a new song?”

“Actually yeah, I think I just finished one today.”

102 \ 294

The Dragons Arkuda and Acamar split off from Soleil’s carried being like petals falling off a flower, depositing her in a place – one where she had landed from elsewhere before, that was vivid in her memory, that they both could find and reach with that information. With her where she needed to be, the two Dragons went their separate ways instantly via their own dragonroads.

Arkuda in sun, in fire, in warmth, absorption, reflection, power, time, space, kindling. It was there, where Arkuda’s element transformed into something related but distinct, that a communication ripple bloomed, catching er fascination. There was a matter that needed to be discussed. As the ripple evolved, it became clear that this was more than a transitory exchange, with more than a circumstantial collision of elements. There was a concrescent occurrence underway, and Arkuda acknowledged purpose in this. There was some talking that needed to be done at the heart of this matter, Dragons to Dragons, and then other important parties would need to participate in the results.