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Never Fade Away, Part 8
Artsy blinks, realizing that her gaze has been focused on one spiraling intersection of light for—well, for more second than she bothered to count. This is the place? she asks, framing that single point in a tri-dimensional box drawn from the mental words. I feel the motion there, but is it thin enough for you?
CONFIDENT/AMUSED. Seeker’s sending pulls her in further, down into the spiral. There, at its center, a pin-prick hole hangs, filmed over with particles from this universe, but there all the same.
i see, i see! Quito crows. home home home, home home home home… The thought-spun melody sways enthusiastically through the living ship, though Artsy is fairly sure that she’s the only passenger to pick up Seeker’s carefully veiled annoyance.
Artsy settles back from the translucent portion of Seeker’s hull. Shall we rest or just go?
YOU HELPING ME TARGET—
me, let me help, let me! Quito breaks in—
--THERE SHOULD BE DIFFICULTY NONE. The inner bioluminescence dims to dark.
Quito huddles up against Artsy, small hands showing like shadows against the swirling light beyond the window.
Then we go now.
Artsy feels Seeker’s sending reach out, and throws herself into the stream of thought and awareness and focus narrowing down and down, stars to spirals to molecules to quarks…
And for a time, stretching and elongated like wind through a tunnel (or "pasta from a press," adds a confusingly metaphorical memory), there is no separation between the three consiousnesses here. A small, darting energy keeps watch on their route, feeding back hazards and folds in local space. An overwhelming power and focus drives straight for the tiny hole, resonating in harmony with its edges, widening it bit by bit and bond by bond. Something else ties these two together, pulling and knotting tightly information and strength and a sense of the pattern that they create even as they tear the fabric of the universe.
Closer they draw, and the hole grows larger--not in seeming, but in absolutely measured observation.
Not large enough. THEN LARGER. larger, more, wider, more...
There is a sharp pressure, pain fragmenting the teamwork that brought them this far. One last strain, a wave of momentary panic...and they are through.
Artsy gasps in a deep breath, and concentrates on taking more. The inside of Seeker's passenger carrier is still dark. Artsy blinks; even the transparent window is gone. Quito?
here.... The child's sending is quiet. Maybe a little dazed. seeker?
There is only blackness and silence and the last ebb of pain. Artsy breathes deeply again, then squeezes her eyes closed and reaches into that void, and beyond that into the void of space around them.
There are no words, and barely concepts. Artsy knows the meaning of this: the crossing was harder than Seeker had planned for.
However, there is something, passing in a steady stream from outside the ship, through it, to Artsy--and to Quito, whose presence is suddenly, sharply aware.
The particulars (sun, planetoids, the bright tangled skiens of subspace like a negative of the nebulae they left on the other side) are not familiar, but the underlying harmonics of the universe are. Artsy lets out a hugh sigh that is half laugh. After a long year of searching...they're home.
INDEED. There is a surge of SATISFACTION, and then of something else. The echo of a particular that is truly familiar.
Artsy is too busy listening to the music of the universe to take in the sensation immediately. It is left to Quito to recognize it, and to react instantly by throwing as strong a sending as she can muster through Seeker towards a tiny planetoid nearby.
silent one! we are here! we are here!