Dec 07, 2019 5:00 AM
Deskyl and DZ among space debris
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DZ reads, checks with Deskyl, and then reports to Meera. "I'm sorry, Ma'am, but the technical aspects of this facility are too complex for me to explain to my master at this time. But she expects to regain her ability to speak Basic within about a cycle, and she can start learning the local language then."

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"Lord Vader says your master may stay here as long as she needs, and that he will see about acquiring a language tutor for her before this cycle is through."

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DZ nods, "Thank you. I expect she'll want to return the Secessionist pilot before then, though."

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“May I assist you or your master with anything else at this time?”

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"No, Ma'am. Thank you."

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Meera gives DZ a curt, null-inertial bow and then takes her leave.

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And DZ goes and puts in a pair of orders - a transport ship, to be produced as quickly as possible, suitable for bringing Culamine's vassals home, and then a midsized scouting ship, comfortable enough for half a dozen people to live in indefinitely, to be ready for Deskyl on her return.

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The engineers she speaks to seem a little bewildered by this allocation of resources, but nobody stops her from placing the order.

 

The relevant macro-fab bays start humming.

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That done, she checks on Deskyl - asleep - and then the rest of the group, Shreya first.

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Shreya can't sleep.

 

She floats listlessly in the proximity of her bed, staring at the wall and whining softly to herself.

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DZ makes her way into the room, waiting for Shreya to notice her before she speaks. "Is there anything I can do to help, Ma'am?"

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"I don't know."

 

"I miss Culamine."

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She nods, pausing for just a moment to think. "Tell me about her?"

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"Culamine, she's, well... she like her sisters for starters. Brilliant, wise, responsible... big."

And Shreya is so small. She can scarcely fathom what it'd be like, if she had to go through life surrounded only by other smallness. She's so lucky to have someone, something, to look up to.

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"But then there are all the little things that make her unique. Not just her style of rulership--everyone always fixates on that when they're comparing and contrasting our masters--but her quirks, her sense of humor, her aesthetic preferences... and even her imperfections."

Shreya smiles a forlorn smile.

"Dragons do have imperfections, you know. It's just that you never notice them unless you're very, very close..."

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"I've only been hers for a couple dozen cycles, you know. And I've never harbored delusions of being her favorite, or anything like that."

Shreya tugs at her collar.

"But I always gave her my best. Took good care of myself in the times she didn't have need of me, so that when she did I could pay attention and get everything I could right. I know her. Relationships, I think, aren't really measured  in decacycles. They're measured in seconds. And I haven't wasted a single second I've spent with her."

She puffs up her chest and grins, though her eyes have started to water.

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"I know that, when Culamine has fuel reserves to spare, she tries to chase contraspin dysofrags down and catch them before they plunge into the Gray Sea. A lot of people say it's just agility training, but she told me once she likes the sensation of biting into something that tried to run away."

 

"I know that when she was still young--back in the days when the dragons' allies still had biofabricators--someone important to Culamine made something for her. A little nonhuman animal called a 'dog'? And not long after we lost the biofabricator, the dog died. It couldn't be replaced."

 

"I know her favorite color is purple, and that she thinks sometimes about getting her scale color changed but always decides not to. I know she frets every cycle over whether her holiday will live up to her vassal's expectations, even though she always pulls things off without a hitch. I know her favorite character in the National Opera is Argorn Trunhardt. I know that when her princesses write her love letters, she carries them out way into the unsettled disk and buries them on inert dysofrags."

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She seems, maybe not calmer, but more centered; good. "We'll have you back to her soon, and I expect she'll want to hear all about what you saw."

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“Yes ma’am.”

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"Do you think you'll be able to sleep now?"

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Shreya gives DZ a quaint look. She was certainly not expecting to defer to external authority in this particular context on this particular degree, but the metal vassal floating across from her clearly has ambitions of putting Shreya to bed. The homesick pilot’s amused by this development, and she’s totally going with it.

 

”Yes ma’am.” Shreya laughs a little, shakes her head, grabs a handful of the elastic sheets below her and starts cocooning herself back into a proper sleeping position.

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"Sleep well."

She goes to check on Drishti, next.

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Drishti's sleeping soundly.

The quarters provided to her here, after all, are almost identical to the ones she bedded down in back at the cloning facility.

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Very good. Devika?

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Tossing and turning, but clearly at least an amount of asleep.

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