Stars Are Interesting and Geology is Totally Hot

Igen Weyr - Canyon Road

Winding here and there into a maze of dizzying twist and turns, the canyon floor rises almost imperceptably at a steady incline from the desert spreading west from the Igen River Valley. Natural rainbows cover the canyon walls, formed by the horizontal layers of colorful limestones, sandstones, and mudstones, split occasionally by flashes of darker igneous rock and obsidian. During the dangerous high sun of midday, this combination can ruthlessly ravage the eyes, just as bits of sand may eat away at the skin in a gust of dry wind. These same grains of dust have worn away at the clifface, grinding curves, ridges, even holes into it, sculpting odd formations out of the stone. The same haphazard architecture is mirrored in the lopsided, sloping sides of Igen Weyr, rising over the canyon like a silent sentinel.


A bright and early Igen morning… presumably happened. Jethaniel and Darsce were quite unaware of it. It was still morning when they awoke - at least in Igen - though it was, by the time they emerged from their guestroom, assuredly afternoon. After breakfast - or, depending on the form of calculation used to differentiate meals, lunch - the rest of the afternoon was passed pleasantly enough in the Igen caverns. It's evening now, Rukbat sinking beneath the horizon, and they have emerged from the caverns to cross the bowl and make for the canyons. Jethaniel has a map in the small pack on his back, but they're not planning to go far, and the trail is a clearly marked one. It'll be dark, true, but he has an electrical light for that purpose. They're headed along the edge of one of the smaller canyons, with vistas of striated minerals and silhouetted rock-formations on the way to a rise that will, in theory, give them a good view of those stars as they emerge.

Because there was sleep to catch up on and… it's entirely possible that when Darsce awoke tangled with Jethaniel that leaving that bed was… difficult. Pleasant is… to eat something so her weakness from fasting will dissipate and to bathe and fuss with her hair and look presentable and… whatever else Jethaniel shows her in this new place and in the caverns of Igen. They're in the desert, with Rukbat beating down from the clear skies and though they're inside the cavern complex, the young woman has remembered this fact. Now, she's never been to the desert before, but in Ierne when the days are expected to be hot, she has heretofore dressed in as little as possible because clothes sticking to her skin is - ew. So it is today: Her denim shorts are… very short. Slim bare feet are shod in sandals with rhinestone straps and her midriff is bare because her pink gingham cotton shirt is ties up under her breasts. This… may not be the wisest of desert apparel. Oh well? If asked whether she's sure she wants to wear that outfit, Darsce will, of course, give a blank 'whut?' sort of look before a sunny smile and blithe assures that yeah, she's sure. And so out she goes into the evening for that stroll (she assumes anyway) totally oblivious to the stares of bewilderment from the more appropriately-clad Igen natives. Robes? Whut? That's… a cultural thing, surely!

The lack of haste Jethaniel had in leaving that bed likely had a great deal to do with his position thereon relative to Darsce. His own preparations for the day are simpler; ablutions, the combing of his hair, the donning of tan trousers and a loose-cut shirt of pale green linen. He is done long before Darsce, but he waits for her patiently, occupying himself with notepad and pencil. The rest of the afternoon? They may spend it in observation of the cultural elements of Igen. The wall-hangings, for instance - or those robes. The dubious looks from those desert-dwellers at Darsce are likely well-founded, but it is, at least, evening. The worst of the day's heat and blazing light have passed. The trail they're aimed for is a relatively easy one, or so Jethaniel has been assured. He hasn't actually walked it himself, though he's done other hiking over the turns. This is meant to be, if perhaps not quite a stroll, at least a reasonable walk along a mild upward grade. There are better locales for star-watching further out into the desert. Jethaniel is not inclined to walk or ride that far, nor to involve a dragonrider who'd then be around during his stargazing time with Darsce.

If they do go out into the desert, perhaps they can send the rider back with the request that he fetch them in the morning. While visiting Igen, Darsce may discover that those robes act as protection from the harsh elements. This evening? Might be partially informative, but for now she is moving and thus the heat she generates give her a false impression that the climate is warmer than it presently is - or will be. She walks easily beside Jethaniel up that trail taking in their surroundings, the odd rock formations, of the bowl rising above them, the harsh barrenness scant of plant life. They're in the middle of nowhere with nothing she can see to lure anyone out here. "Why'd they want to come live way out here anyway?" she asks, breaking what has been comfortable silence between them.

There will be other nights, other opportunities to explore the desert and watch the skies. They may investigate the possibilities as they see fit. For tonight, they investigate this one. There's a blanket in Jethaniel's pack - meant for sitting on, but it may be adapted to other purposes, and for now, the exertion of the walk will keep them warm. Once Rukbat has finished sinking, they will discover that temperature is not, in fact, the primary definitional factor of a desert environment. He observes the rocks with interest, geology as shaped by the wind and scouring sands, then tilts his head to Darsce at her question. "To my understanding, the location was a reasonably central point between Keroon, the Igen river, and Lemos. The lack of greenery was, at the time, an additional benefit."

Darsce isn't sure exactly how to define the desert yet, save for DRY or empty. She hasn't really seen it, seen it. She considers Jethaniel's answer and ahs, then frowns. "Stupid Thread. That must've sucked." She knows about the history of the planet, at least the highlights even if trivia like names, dates and places bored her. If he's got an arm free, she'll link hers with his hug it to her, pleased to be with him and away from the daily pressures they both face. She's been observing where his gaze has gone, but for the life of her can't see what he's seeing. Rock, rock, rock and more rock. "What are you looking at?" she finally asks, curious, mostly because it's Jethaniel doing the looking.

The aridity is, in fact, the defining factor of the desert. Darsce's observations are quite accurate. Jethaniel nods to the one she makes concerning thread. "I consider it fortunate that it is relegated to historicity." He smiles and steps closer to her as his arm is caught, thereby increasing both the necessity and ease of synchronizing his pace with hers. The time together with no demands on their time beyond the plans they make is something he has been enjoying since the unhurried morning in bed. He continues to do so, walking with her until the question makes his head turn toward her. "I am observing the geology." He smiles. "These canyons are composed of a variety of minerals. Primarily sedimentary stones, which is intriguing given the proximity of the volcano; I might expect more igneous involvement, but these formations may have been upthrust more recently. The uneven nature of the erosion is, at least, conducive to that theory of convolution."

The…geology. Darsce smiles in spite of trying not to make it obvious that she is doing so because of Jethaniel's phraseology. She listens carefully to each word though and her mouth opens tp she ask, "Can you show me which are the-" Only to break off at 'recent upthrust' instead, staring at him with iceblue eyes rounder than her norm, glossed lips parted. To her credit she doesn't start snickering but continues walking while the things she could say of 'upthrust' and 'convolution' left unsaid in favor of drawling facetiously, "Like this morning when the earth moved?" He might catch the tremor of strain and the uneasy look towards where he'd been last studying the rockface that tells she's not really thinking of this morning. Instead her arm tightens around his a tiny bit. Writ on her face is the thought: could it… happen… again? Now? Eek?

Geology is, in fact, the study of when the earth moves. The terminology used may, as such, have further correspondences suitable for use in various innuendos. Jethaniel tilts his head toward Darsce, the signs of her concern noted. The consideration thereof creates a delay, but he does know at least one sort of answer for that question. "It is not entirely dissimilar, though a geologic morning consists of thousands of years. I expect there have been no significant changes to this structure since Igen's founding." He reaches his free hand over to brush fingers against her arm, a gesture meant to be reassuring despite not being certain exactly why such assurance is required.

Darsce's arm is brushed, reassurance communicated. So instead of commenting in a suggestive tone that given the choice, she will gladly opt for a geologic morning any day, her eyes lift to Jethaniel's and she seeks further reassurance, "So you're sure we aren't going to be upthrusted suddenly into oblivion while we sit atop this volcano?" Having lived in Ierne and Xanadu, she's… never been to a volcano, but she did hear about them in harper lessons. They do bad things like blow up. If she's going to go, she's going holding onto his arm; she doesn't let it go. Her steps quicken slightly towards the rim like that would help in a pyroclastic event.

Jethaniel's touch lingers, and his eyes meet Darsce's. There's concern in the grey ones, but it's mild and for her, an expression that eases as she articulates her concern. "Ah." He smiles slightly. "As such, yes. The rate of subduction is… at most, a few centimeters per turn." He could stop there, but he doesn't; that answer is reassuring, but incomplete. The smile fades, but he doesn't look concerned, merely earnest as he continues to explain. "The volcano… it is theoretically possible it could erupt, but very unlikely. It has been dormant for a long time, and there is seismographic equipment in place to monitor it."

He's sure and that, for Darsce eases her mind and her arm relaxes its grip on his although she doesn't entirely let it go. Instead, she continues to walk with him and as she watches that earnestness of his, her smile returns, although it is a gently fond one. "Okay so no blowing up and we'll be the ones making the earth move; I love it when you do that." She says it all on one breath and it may not be apparent she's talking about two different subjects. Her smile remains affectionate rather than sultry and she harks back to his original comments, "So if you point out examples of the sedimentary and igneous for me, I'll be more informed. Because I look at them and all I see is rocks." And a rim drawing closer?

The state wherein Jethaniel's arm is held, but not with excessive tension, is one he finds favorable; he smiles as Darsce's touch returns to that level. Appropriately enough, this also accompanies the return of the smile to her face. He listens carefully to that rush of words, and after a moment, his lips twitch. "There may also be fireworks. Which might constitute an explosion." Metaphorically speaking, which… presumably, Jethaniel is, his expression one of mild amusement accompanied by affection. "Ah," he says regarding those mineral types, and nods. "The essential difference is in their formation. Sedimentary rocks are made when loose materials - sand, mud, dirt - are pressed together until they become rock." He indicates one in passing, a ruddy sandstone. "There is often a visible and consistent grain pattern, or a clear layering effect. Igneous stone, however, is formed from molten rock." A glance to Darsce, and then the assurance, "Long ago, or significantly below the surface. It tends to be more consistent in color and texture." He can point out more rocks along the way to the top - perhaps there'll even be enough light to observe the larger structures of stone from that perspective once they get there, though the evening is certainly proceeding.

Ah HA! He is capable of indirect expression for the purposes of humor! Darsce wasn't sure if he utilized that sort of turn of phrase. She awards him an admiring look, laughs and her brows twitch up then down twice as she says, "Provided ambient temperature and pressure are sufficient." They continue ascending the incline and her attention is directed back to the original topic. As Jethaniel indicates the layers, she veers closer to run her fingers over the variegated red-blonde hued strata. "Pretty. If it could be polished it might look nice in settings." A gemologist she is not and so she moves on, intent on his explanation. "It always comes down to pressure, hm?" she says stroking the igneous rock they bypass. Presumably she means geology. They reach the top, emerging on to the rim from the canyon and the panorama both above and below open to them. Her hold on his arm tightens once more but for a different reason. The sheer drop is… breath-taking.

Jethaniel is capable of many things, given a suitable context. Darsce… is quite good at providing him with contexts. He ducks his head slightly for her look, though his smile remains, broadens for her laughter. The conditions she sets upon the hypothesized exothermic reactions receive a nod. "Quite so." He's drawn with her to those rocks, and nods. "Or, I believe, with the application of sealants… though most gemstones are not, strictly speaking, stone. They are mineral growths that form as inclusions in stone. The distinction can be somewhat arbitrary, but… the relative rareness of a thing tends to correlate to its perceived value." Jethaniel's own knowledge of rocks and gems is distinctly limited; a few classes of overview, nothing more. He looks to Darsce at her comment regarding pressure, and smiles. "Metamorphic stone consists of existing rock altered by sufficient heat and pressure," he says as they continue up, and as they reach the top, his eyes leave Darsce to look out over the canyons, the endless desert beyond, the sky that seems to reach just as far. His other hand reaches over, resting his fingers over hers. "It is… quite remarkable." The view. Or perhaps the heat? But it's getting rather cool.

Gemstones yes. Many of those are crystals, but jewelry also utilizes many semi-precious stones as well. And yet a third type of rock is mentioned where pressure is involved, this time with heat! Darsce nods and interjects, "Geology is hot." Because friction, pressure, upthrusts and heat! She may yet delve further into science, if only to arm herself with more innuendoes. The view is remarkable, Darsce will not to that while her free hand creeps to curl over his arm. It's a long, //long way down! "Yeah," she mutters while staring into the shadowy depths of the bowl where the lights that dot the way to here and there look tiny. She sways fractionally. They're here to see the stars but she can't pull her eyes skyward.

Jethaniel has seen classes purporting to be an analysis of one field or another for a technician's perspective. He has yet to see one for the perspective of an innuendo-maker; perhaps it can be arranged as a novel experience. Geology is also rock-hard - which is, in fact, a range of hardnesses. Hot? "Upon occasion," he acknowledges with quirked lips. Once at the top, his eyes wander the horizon, then turn to look at Darsce. His expression turns thoughtful as he curves his fingers in against hers, resting them there gently. "The canyons are formed by erosion," he says quietly, his voice calm and steady in explaining what she sees. "The rock is worn away by the air and airborne particles of sand, according to the hardness of the stone and the patterns of the wind. It is… a very slow process."

Hard… Nono, he didn't say that out loud and thus, Darsce misses an opportunity there. Besides she's experiencing another aspect of science - it may fall under either geology or chemistry - or both. She's petrified, rooted to the spot. "Uh huh," she says faintly. And you know, for some people who fear falling that pull that seems to draw them towards the abyss? It pulls at Darsce, whose slight sway becomes a bit more of a lean towards the drop, that mesmerizing hypnosis that dictates one must go into the void.

The touch of Jethaniel's fingers moves, from brushing at arm to crossing in front of Darsce, reaching for her opposite shoulder as he creates an axis of rotation at her arm with his and turns himself and her around it so she'll press to his front and that other arm of his may go around her. This may involve drawing her toward him, touch gentle but insistent, or it may involve him stepping around her, to interpose himself between her and that void. This may place him closer to the edge; that fact does not concern him. Jethaniel, for all he is fascinated by many aspects of the world, does not seem to have that… particular… fascination with heights.

Darsce turns easily and it's only when she is faced away from the drop that the spell is broken and her arms grab for Jethaniel, curling around him to cling almost desperately as she buries her face in his chest. "Okay, that was so weird," she mutters. "I never feel that way a'dragonback." It takes her several deep breaths before her arms relax and this time she doesn't look back down but up to Jethaniel's face. "Where are we sitting to look at the stars?"

Jethaniel wraps his arms around Darsce, more lightly than her clinging but nevertheless secure in their placement. He represents the small and personal, in contrast to the vastness of the precipice and canyon, and he holds her close. "It is a somewhat different experience," he says quietly. "For one thing, there is a dragon." He lowers his head, touching his cheek against the top of her head for a moment until he feels the change in muscle tension that presages the lift of her head, and does the same with his. Jethaniel's eyes are concerned enough to search hers for assurance before he answers her question. "Nearby, according to the plan." As it currently stands. Revisions are entirely possible. "There is a flat region."

Darsce returns Jethaniel's searching look steadily; the moment has passed. "And straps," she notes with a brief shudder for the odd effect standing at the edge of the abyss had on her. Her arms give him a gentle squeeze. "I'm fine, Jethaniel. I won't go near the edge or look down. Let's go look at your stars and you can tell me about them." She won't let go of him either.

Jethaniel regards Darsce for her assurance, then nods. "Very well." He tilts his head in to brush his lips to her cheek softly, his arms remaining around her for another moment. Perhaps, in this scenario, they substitute for those straps. "I have very little claim to these stars," he says with a slight curve of his lips. "I will, however, tell you about them." For so long as she wishes to listen, though he won't be letting go of her. He can, without doing so, adjust his arms such that he has one around her and can walk alongside as they approach a suitable location.

His arms in place of straps? Even better! Though Darsce certainly enjoys the brush of his lips and her cheek presses into it briefly, she doesn't attempt to return it. Somehow, making out on the edge of a precipice is something she's not brave enough to attempt. She turns with him, content within the circle of his arm to walk to that flat space, with a secretive half-smile upon her mouth. The stars belong to no one, she knows that. But she'll think of them as his because it pleases her to do so. In the time he takes to remove that blanket and place it on the ground, she notices the temperature change from earlier and shivers briefly. Her short shorts and cutoff top? Not wise, ah well. She does not, however, say a word because she'd rather snuggle - whether sitting or lying - beside him than be cocooned in that blanket. When they are settled, she points to a bright star and asks, "Will you tell me about that one? My grandpapa Naois' ship is named after it."

Jethaniel is not inclined to linger here, but there are occasions wherein physical contact is a more efficient means of communication than words. Hence, the kiss. Away from the edge, the expanse of the canyon and desert is still visible, but the distance makes them ambiguous, a horizon instead of a precipice. He does not dispute Darsce's pleasure; he has presented her with the facts. It is also true that there exists a connection between Jethaniel and the stars, one that will influence the facts as he presents them to her. His explanation will not be the same as she would receive from a starcrafter. In that sense, Darsce is correct. The blanket is spread on the ground. There's some light food and drink still in the bag - a tea with fruit juice and some bite-sized nibbles - but Jethaniel ignores them. He sits on the blanket and offers his arms - as well as the exothermic radiation of his body - to Darsce. He smiles to her as she settles, then lifts his head to observe where she indicates. The star in question is… "Vega." He smiles. "It is roughly twice the mass of Rukbat, though significantly more distant. It is… a changeable star."

Darsce is reassured, calmed by that kiss. It's also her inclination to turn it into a make-out opportunity, though she's…yeah, saving that for later. She settles, this time beside Jethaniel rather than on his lap because - plotting! She tips her head further back to see that star. Heh, she'd pointed to the wrong one. But with an eager nod, "Yes Vega." That's the one she wants to hear about. Then without any warning at all her arms encircle Jethaniel and she goes over backwards with a soft giggle, attempting to pull him with her. Because stargazing while lying flat on their backs will save their necks, um, won't it? She snuggles her head close to his, drapes one bare leg over his trouser'd one and asks, "What's it change into?"

Jethaniel's thoughts having been successfully directed to the stars above, Darsce's actions down here take him quite by surprise. The "Ah," of startlement occurs simultaneously with his tumble back, and it's followed by a laugh as his arm tightens around her for a moment, then settles into a relaxed position suitable for remaining around her. He smiles fondly, then lifts his eyes to the heavens above once more. "A slightly different star." His smile now is quietly amused. "The distinction is only of interest to starcrafters, but… the stars are not round. They spin, and elongate around their axis. Vega spins very quickly; it is a distinctly ovoid star. The observed light and radiation are, as such, highly variable. On a different planet… we would see a different star."

Darsce snickers just a bit for that 'ah' of his, but it's a fond sort of snicker. She's careful enough that they don't slam their heads into the rock underneath them, turns her head to murmur in his ear a playful, "Gotcha," before turning her head so her eyes can follow his to Vega, paying attention while Jethaniel tells her about it. Elongate, he says and Darsce nods understanding. "I guess a blob of gas would do that," she says lightly of the star in question. She absorbs his facts about variable light, but it is this planet that concerns her. "It's very bright. Does it go dim sometimes then? Because I would think that would be a bad thing; my grandfather used Vega to guide his ship more than he did Polaris, though I've no idea why."

"Always," is Jethaniel's answer, quiet but earnest. Its application to whether Darsce is capable of catching him by surprise is questionable; he may yet learn to predict her, or at least reduce the occasions on which her actions are unexpected. Regardless, the fact that she has him is one he intends to keep true for as long as possible. He proceeds, after this reminder, to explaining the stars. "Vega, in particular, is mostly hydrogen and helium; it has little in the way of metals." He glances down from the stars above to look at Darsce, a further specificity of concern beyond the planetary scale. "It is." Jethaniel agrees to the brightness, then shakes his head. "There are fluctuations in its light due to the dust clouds spinning around it, but…" He smiles. "Nothing observable to the eye. The stars we see are not the ones starcrafters study. Compared to them, these rocks are young and this planet is small."

Darsce's teasing smile grows sweeter as she meets Jethaniel's eyes in the semi-darkness and her cheek presses to his shoulder in wordless agreement. As long as she lives, she intends to love him and have him as hers. To the stars then… They're looking skywards, but she can see the movement of his head out of the corner of her eye and so her head turns back to him. "Oh good!" She doesn't have to worry about Vega blinking out some night while the Vega Run wanders lost… "Is it?" she breathes of Pern being small. From what she's seen of it a'dragonback it seems huge. She cannot imagine another body dwarfing it. Starlight glitters in her eyes as they drift skywards again, "Grandpapa Naois told me a story about Vega once," she begins dreamily. "He said an eagle stole the Masterharper's lyre and wished to play more beautifully than the harper did. Only he failed because the lyre was crafted to play only one song: it was of betrayal and enslavement, love and sacrifice and finally triumph but the eagle couldn't understand such things." Her eyes trace the constellation in which Vega is found. "But the eagle wouldn't return the lyre; he gripped it tightly in his talons and tried to fly far, far away. He was sure if he could know the song, he could play it better. Only he never did, because he never really listened to the Masterharper play it. And so he fell and he's still falling now."

If - when - Vega blinks out, it will be a rather dramatic and irreversible change, marked here on Pern with a bloom of light less visible, from here, than the lanterns down in the bowl. The Vega Run will likely continue to be fine despite the loss of her namesake, if she is still extant at that time; her sailors will infer the directions required from what stars remain, just as they might on a partly-cloudy night. Darsce has not, however, asked about the stellar life-cycle, and so Jethaniel does not explain it. Instead, he smiles, nods for the size of Pern. "On the scale of the universe, it is a speck." His head turns, looking to Darsce. "So are we, but… biased toward perceiving events at our own order of magnitude. The vastness of the universe is often ignored." Perhaps Jethaniel ignores it now, gazing instead at the dimly-seen shape of Darsce. Despite the darkness obscuring her features, he smiles as he listens to the story she tells. Still falling? Ah, but Darsce is speaking of a mythological eagle. "Perhaps he had to experience those feelings for himself, and someday… he'll have the triumph, and play his song."

Darsce's eyes are on the heavens and the vast expanse courtesy of the night sky. "A speck," she echoes, almost uneasily. "I can see why people ignore infinity. I sailed aboard the Vega Run with my grandpapa. With Timor and Belior to light the seas at night I felt very… small. I felt I could be easily lost. Like I might disappear. Like I might not… matter. It was an… unnerving feeling." She muses on that until Jethaniel's words draw her to another plane altogether. She turns her head, eyes large in the starlight. "The eagle would have to be betrayed by a friend and sold into slavery. And then rescued by that same friend and allow him to take his place. My grandpapa Naois says that would be a dilemma few would accept. But… maybe if the eagle did, he could play the song." Childhood stories. Don't they always loom large? The thought seems to move Darsce for she falls silent. Insignificance and surrender. Two humbling aspects.

Merely a speck; an insignificant mote of dust. Jethaniel nods to Darsce, his eyes remaining on her. "At the scale of the stars… we do not." He reaches to trail his fingers gently along her arm, tracing up the limb. "Infinity is fractal. There are infinite points at which we do not matter; the ones where we do are circumscribed in time and space." His hand pauses, near her shoulder. "They nevertheless exist, though the infinity of insignificance is greater." When she turns to him, his eyes settle on hers, his thoughtful expression lending the grey ones a sense of depth like that of the night sky. "Perhaps. If he let go of the lyre… he might yet understand." Jethaniel's fingers lift a little further, and brush softly against her cheek. "But then he still couldn't play it."

Darsce's admission of insignificance is something she would never tell anyone but Jethaniel, in fact her next words are, accompanied by an almost-chagrinned half-laugh, "I've… never told anyone that…" Not that she's afraid he'd expose her secret fears, really. Who would he tell? Perhaps she means to communicate the measure of trust she places in him in confessing that. She turns her head further, brushing her lips to those fingers pauses on her shoulder, then leaves them there while he speaks of the story, of the eagle letting go. "No, he couldn't," She agrees. "Maybe though, the eagle could truly hear it then because he'd learned to surrender… I always wondered what would happen if he let go. The Masterharper might catch the lyre and play the song once more." Darsce sounds wistful; she doesn't like sad endings. Leaving a final kiss to his fingers, she turns her face back to the night sky, feels him brush her cheek and leans into the caress although she doesn't take her eyes from the stars. Silence settles for a span until, with a lifted arm, a wave of her hand in a vague gesture that encompasses all of the wonders above she asks, "What fascinates you the most out of all of it?"

Jethaniel, given the measure of that admission, nods without surprise. She may not see the gesture, but she'll hear, "Who would you tell?" Such a lonely fear cannot be explained, cannot be addressed. It can be understood, accepted, but, in the end, it simply… is. "Perhaps he could," Jethaniel agrees of the lonely eagle flying ever upward, then smiles. "Do you think the Masterharper stopped singing?" His fingers trail over her chin as her head turns away, and perhaps the kisses are why they've followed to her cheek. Jethaniel watches her, despite the darkness, observing the shadow-shapes and the shifting rise and fall of breathing. He could watch her forever… but at her question, Jethaniel laughs. He turns his gaze from Darsce, looking to those stars at which he is purportedly here to gaze. "It is quiet," he says, and having said he is fascinated by the silence, continues to speak. "Space is vast and empty. Out there is room for anything I can imagine; for more that I can ever possibly imagine. If I can think my dreams among the stars, how can anything here possibly stand in my way?"

Vulnerability like that could only have been shared with someone who wouldn't use it against her; Darsce has - or feels she has - only met one person in her entire life who has that quality and she's looking at him after that question. The faint light is such that the blue of her eyes is washed out, leaving them silvered, dreamy. "Probably not, but maybe without the lyre is wasn't the same one." There was only one song for that stolen lyre, after all. The laugh surprises her and though her eyes had drifted skyward again, they drop to Jethaniel for it. Quiet? She blinks. That was unexpected. Of all the amazing array glittering above them he says… that. But she's intrigued so totally that she doesn't re-direct him to the heavenly bodies. Instead, "What… do you dream?"

"Perhaps not," Jethaniel says of the Masterharper's tune. The lyre had only one song; the harper himself was likely not so limited. For that question, Jethaniel keeps his eyes lifted to the stars, and a gentle smile tugs his lips. "Civilization. Society. The stars are Holds, scattered across Pern. What if I connected them?" He lifts a hand, traces a line from one star to the next. "Telegraph. Radio. The stars emit radio waves; they speak, though they do not hear. We can make devices that listen to the stars. Could we make people listen?" His lips draw to the side, wry. "Should we?" The smile returns to center. "I see energy patterns, sources and sinks. They are too complex for me to understand, and they are beautiful." His hand reaches to the sky, stretches for a moment. "There are others out there, and yet…" His hand lowers. "We are still alone. I dream what might be."

Darsce watches Jethaniel's face rather than the star-holds he reaches for. She's stopped breathing as he talks, a sort of wonder on her face. She… has no idea what he's talking about for the most part. Perhaps he's combining several ideas into one. "Wait- Are you talking of connecting all of Pern by radio? Or-" The…stars…speak. She blinks at that one, but she has no reason to disbelieve him. Awed, "What do they say?" She has no clue about whether people could be or should be made to listen, but snorts, "I would!" Because that's so unique to her to think the stars do that. He loses her completely with energy patterns and all the rest. Her eyes wander back skywards. "All I see are the twinkling…stars." There's something wrong with her, isn't there? If he doesn't understand the complexities he sees up there, she's certainly not going to, but she would like to at least be able to see the energy patterns. Maybe if she squints… nope. Sigh. others, yes. She listened to that part of the harpers lessons. History, not her thing with the facts and dates but the story, the adventure of colonizing Pern…! So she knows they came from somewhere…a place that is still there. “What might be?" Tell her more! "Oh. Or did you mean connecting all the…other places?"

Oh yes, Jethaniel is combining ideas. He's using symbolism and metaphor both, not entirely precisely; this is not a technical document, and he's swept away by the wonder of the stars and his dreams. "Why not?" he says to the idea of connecting Pern, the question an earnest one. He answers it a moment later. "There are technical difficulties - achieving production at scale, obtaining reliable long-range transmission… but it would be fascinating." It is a dream. Not all dreams come true. The messages of the stars? He tilts his head, looking to her. "We do not know. We can hear, but… are they tides or dolphin-song?" Jethaniel does not know, and he returns his gaze to the heavens with Darsce's, nods to what she sees. "Each of those stars is a source. Light. Heat. Radiation. In between… space. Cold. Dark. Sparse. A sink. We see only the light which reaches us." There's a certain quiet melancholy to his words. What might be implies what might not, and might… is not the same as will. Jethaniel's eyes linger on the stars, and he's quiet for a moment after Darsce's question. "What would you have be? The stars… they deny nothing. There is room enough between them for anything. What would you have?"

Ah is he? Perhaps that's why Darsce is uncertain, for to her experience Jethaniel speaks factually when explaining things. But dreams, he's said and she's caught up in wanting to know those. She knows nothing about the logistics of connecting Pern by radio, but she says wistfully, "It would be nice to be able to talk to places without having to bother riders and wait for the back and forth. It would be efficient. I think if anyone could do it, you could, Jethaniel! Why don't you?" Ha! In all his spare time? "Or maybe each star is a note in a great symphony," she says of the mysterious stars. "Have you heard them?" Because 'we' he's said. Sensing his melancholy, she turns on her side, placing her arm across his middle and nestling her head on his shoulder. What will be might not be bad? It might be more than they could ever imagine. What would she have out there in all that space between the stars? Darsce has to think about that. "Nothing crowded and noisy-" a glance to him and back to the vast universe above. "So not more civilizations cluttering the space." She ponders and finally says decisively, "Mysteries. Beauty. Both to discover. If… we could get there."

Dreams are rarely factual. They are snippets of imagination, fragments of maybe and might and possible (and impossible) all tumbled together into a vision, beautiful or terrible. Jethaniel speaks factually when he has facts to speak. When he does not… ah, but his words currently lack the structure of meter and rhyme to bring sense by their constraints; perhaps that is the difficulty. It would, in fact, be nice to have instantaneous communication across the globe, and Jethaniel nods to that, with a smile that, as Darsce presents him with a variant of his own question, turns wistful. "Because there are vast requirements of logistics, production, and diplomacy, and I am only one man. Because… I am insignificant." Compared to the stars above, and that dream is one to be had beneath and between the stars, because it is too large to be had on Pern. Those stars… "They may indeed, but who can understand the song?" Perhaps he's thinking of that eagle, who zealously sought but never listened. As for himself? "I have. There is a radio telescope to the southeast of Landing. It is…" He smiles wryly. "Like drumheights that are never still. The pulses of the stars. The soft whisper of communication. We know some of them are messages; codes we know from AIVAS. Others… we do not know if they are harper's drums or wherry wingbeats." There is so much that they do not know; will never know. It might be more than they will ever imagine - and so Jethaniel will never know it, never imagine it, never even know what he is missing, how truly insignificant he is. His arm curls with Darsce as she shifts, holding her close as she presses against him. His eyes remain on the sky, but as she thinks, his fingers wander, trailing soft caresses along what of her back they may. His reach is limited, constrained by the position in which they lie, but he nevertheless touches what he can. He's quiet, waiting for her answer. There's no noise and chaos from him, just the murmur of his pulse, the rise and fall of his chest as he breathes. He waits, and for her conclusion, he smiles. Mysteries and beauty. "There are places where two stars circle each other, in a dance of gravity that brings them crashing close and swirling apart. They steal each other's matter, the coronas mingling as they sweep past, trailing streaks of plasma that fall back to the solar surface or drift out through the cosmos."

Perhaps… the effect of Jethaniel speaking so has Darsce in wonderment though. Of what he says as well as how. He is only one man, but insignificant? "Not to me!" Darsce says firmly. But he speaks of the monumental task. "Maybe the dream needs a network to inspire the ones who can meet those…requirements," she muses. She knows nothing of the scope and challenges, so doesn't push it; he will, however, find an ardent supporter in her if he ever attempts to unite Pern by radio. Of stars singing - it's interesting how a harper story factors into things he's found out at Landing - she turns dreamy once more, "Perhaps only the Masterharper can put the notes together. We will build a starship to sail the waves of energy and go in search of him. When we find him, we will ask him." If that's too grand, the two of them can write stories to be told by future traders and sailors on starry nights: 'The Adventures of Darsce and Jethaniel - Into the Universe Saga One'. She listens, rapt as he speaks of the voices of the stars, says they know they are messages. "That's… profound. Because a code means…" Oh, she doesn't know! "We should listen and expect meaning. And I want to go hear them sometime," she adds, still awed at the thought. She settles more closely against him as he speaks of gravity and matter and coronas and plasma and cosmos. She's never studied the stars, doesn't remotely know what he means but says with a gentle smile, "I almost believe you've been there."

Not to Darsce, no, but she is of the same scale he is. It is deltas to the order of magnitude that correspond to the relative significance of entities. Jethaniel smiles for her assertion, giving her a gentle squeeze against him. "If enough people believe in a dream… it may happen," he agrees. "I do not know what proportion would be sufficient. Perhaps we will find out." His head turns, looking to her in the darkness, and he smiles. Darsce's support may not come with any of the required technical skills, but it is nevertheless one Jethaniel deeply appreciates. His gaze returns to those stars at the dream of their songs. "Perhaps so. Whether we find him or no… I will journey with you, and we will listen." Among the stars? Perhaps only in metaphor, but regardless of where they roam, it will be together, and they will listen - to that around them, and most of all, to each other. "What we hear…" He smiles. "There will be meaning, if only one we place upon it. I will listen with you, and you may tell me what you hear." He has told her; when he has arranged things and brought her to the telescope, it will be her turn. The Adventures of Darsce and Jethaniel will be made of the stories they tell each other and the meanings they assign to their time together. There are many stories to tell, those as close as Darsce is to his side and as distant as those stars he describes, and his smile turns wistful for Darsce's answer. "No. Nor will I ever. Nevertheless… I dream."

"Perhaps we will," agrees Darsce of finding out what it will take to connect Pern by radio. "It started with one and there are two tonight," she says with a contented sigh for the gentle press of his arm that welcomes her to his side and into his life. To share a dream is a special sort of sweetness and she truly believes he can do anything he puts his mind to. And, if dreaming, dream big, so she adds, "And when you've solved how to connect the holds of Pern, then you can solve the puzzle of connecting the starholds out there." This too, she believes he can do and she will assist him if only to look pretty and hand him things while he works his technical expertise. Or encourage him when he's tired and discouraged. Or simply help him rest when over-worked. He hasn't been to the stars, Darsce knows this, and yet he knows things. "You've seen those beautiful places through the telescope, then? There are pictures?" The starcrafters are busy people, the 'scope in high demand. To allow a noncrafter to monopolize it isn't something she remotely assumes will happen, however, "Perhaps a harper's painting…" The adventures of Darsce and Jethaniel will be physically planetbound but their minds can soar. "There's the Yokohama; it will have to suffice for a taste of the stars, but I like what dreaming does to you, Jethaniel. So please… always dream," she says with a tender smile for him.

"So there are," Jethaniel agrees with a smile. It will take far more than two to achieve a cross-Pern radio system, but it is something he can work on in his free time, should he manage to locate any. As for those starholds? He considers it a moment, then laughs. "That might be simpler. The stars have fewer politics." For that's likely the greatest of the issues in creating that radio system - convincing holders and crafters to invest in the devices, to learn the use of them and keep them maintained. The technical issues will, in time, yield to the careful application of tools and techniques. The people… may not. Still, it's a dream he can work toward, beginning with efforts to improve the system already in effect in the Xanadu region, then expanding. There are possibilities, and he will explore them with Darsce's assistance - whatever form that may take. His journeys to the stars have been mental ones, but they have been assisted by certain tools. "I have seen some things through a telescope. Not many; it is… difficult to obtain the opportunity." Yet he has. "There are pictures; photographs taken by the starcrafters and those from the AIVAS files. I can show you those." And explain the dynamics of them, his understanding of the physics and astronomy behind those captured images. He nods to the Yokohama, and there's a 'but' that makes his lips part, delayed by the rest of her words. His head tilts, looking at Darsce with a question that fades to a soft smile. "I would like to visit the Yokohama again someday." Which only requires him to find the time and a rider with the coordinates. "I think, however… in some regards, we are closer to the stars here." The difference in distance is insignificant, but… "It is easier to dream." Those dreams are the only thing that can bring them to those stars, and Jethaniel holds Darsce close as he promises, "I will do so." There will be times - many of them - when he must focus on practical things, on mundane tasks and optimizations of the ordinary, but… not all the time. He'll find chances to dream, and share his dreams with Darsce to find them all the sweeter for being heard.

Wrinkling her nose at politics, "Ugh." There's some muttering under her breath with a few choice cusswords in there ending with, "…ego-stuffed shirts." Darsce…would make a horrible politician unless highly motivated to bite her tongue. Even then, her boiling point is variable, eruptions, unpredictable. She listens to Jethaniel while the glitter of stars wheels silently overhead, tilts her head back to sweep her gaze across the expanse above. She… did she even look at the stars from the Yokohama? Proooobably not. Between freaking out about zero-grav and that conversation over that light panel… she spent the rest of her time poking around to see what there was to do on board, determined they needed a salon and probably spent the remainder of her time there divided between trying to convince the powers that be to let her set one up and searching to see where Jethaniel had gotten himself off to. Her look at the stars ends as she tips her head forward, shifts within the circle of Jethaniel's arm to lie on her side. Ah better! She can see his face in the dim starlight. She lifts her hand so one of her fingers traces his lower lip, up his cheek to the corners of one of those grey eyes. "Your face goes all…earnestly introspective and… otherworldly; I like it." It's when his arm tightens about her that she leans down and brushes her lips along his cheekbone to his ear where she laughs low in her throat and adds suggestively, "Dream of me sometimes, mmm?"

Jethaniel smiles as he listens to Darsce's opinion of politics. He would not say such things on the subject. He is polite even when dealing with irate holders or argumentative crafters. He says nothing very well… but he most assuredly smiles as Darsce expresses those things that he would not, his arm warm around her despite the cool of the night. He looks to the stars now; he did so on the Yokohama as well, along with investigating the technology. Perhaps, when Darsce went searching, Jethaniel was tucked in a back corridor with one of the engineers, or conducting observations on systems sufficiently mission-critical that even a techcraft journeyman only barely constituted authorized personnel; it would explain why she did not find him then. She has him now, and as Darsce turns, his arm shifts, adjusting to her new position. His lips curve slightly in a pursuit of that upward-tracing finger, and though they are more constrained due to reasons of anatomy, the smile still reaches his eyes. "There are other worlds among those stars, but… I expect that is not what you mean." His lips quirk with amusement, and as Darsce's lips trail along his cheek, his breath catches. His gaze leaves the stars so far above and goes to Darsce, so near. He turns slightly, angling himself toward her as his other arm reaches to join the first in encircling her, holding her more fully. "I do," he says, words quiet and earnest. "I wish I could always hold you. I want to make you laugh. My dreams are insufficient to express you. I still dream."

Yeahno, Darsce wouldn’t have gone to the bowels of the ship or… well, maybe the hallways briefly and asked passing techs and starcrafters if they’d seen a hot guy with stars in his eyes and a pink lipstick smudge on his cheek, but sterile hallways in the face of repeated strange looks and ‘haven’t seen anyone that fits that description’ (she might’ve even been escorted out of a few halls too!) would likely have her lurking in the cafeteria (being very bored while doing so) in the assumption that eventually Jethaniel would have to eat something. With a blink and then a brief laugh of planet-face Jethaniel, “I don’t; I mean you get all…” moony-eyed wouldn’t work either and so she just leans in and kisses him gently, lingeringly. That for now will have to suffice as an explanation: she likes very much what his dreams do to him. Lifting her head, at least far enough to speak, she says, “You can hold me forever and insufficient be your dreams of me if you say so, but no one else does it.” She makes a face and adds, “Unless it’s to have nightmares. So if you ever want to share those…”

Eventually is a very long time; it's nearly so long as forever. This kiss is more temporally restrained, but Jethaniel nevertheless returns it with soft affection for the full duration. Darsce's approval is, if somewhat imprecisely specified, nevertheless understood, and he smiles as her lips draw away that she may speak. The expression lingers as he listens. "You are more interesting than my dreams of you." His fingers trail down along her back, tracing over the fabric until they brush the bare skin of her lower back and splay against it like a naive space-filling algorithm as he explains, "You may do things I am not expecting. My dream… cannot." Jethaniel brushes his lips to hers softly. The kiss is, in technique, significantly similar to the previous one, but is distinct in both time and the details of the message it conveys - though it does have substantive memetic commonality. "You already know my nightmares." His head dips, and his lips brush softly to her jaw, just to the side of her chin.

Darsce's perception of forever will expand past twenty minutes as the turns pass. Maybe. Unless… well… Let's just say there will be times when twenty minutes will still be an eternity. "I may?" Drasce perks, pleased he seems to be giving her permission to wreak havoc in his ordered life and yet, to know what his mind conjures from his subconscious without his careful control… He's kissing her and her questions melt away for the duration. "I do," she responds with a pensive breath out of those nightmares and her arm curls, snugly protective around him while her body does the same, seeking his warmth for the night is chill and growing more so. They may remain here to watch the stars until the dawn and the sunrise afterwards that or make the dark, trek back to their room while she chatters her discomfort with the temperatures. But she is with him; that's the most important part to her. And he is warm.

Jethaniel can continue to explain geologic and stellar time to provide a contrast, but there are reasons to find various scales relevant. Twenty minutes… ah, it depends on the circumstances. A mere dream of Darsce cannot surprise him, whether with pleasure or chaos, and Jethaniel's intent was to inform, not give a further permission he considers unnecessary. Darsce's questioning tone draws a nod from him, or perhaps it's simply part of the tilt of his head as he kisses her, an act which serves to distract from both her questions and any he might have concerning why she questions this fact. She may surprise, astound, confound and confuse him, and Jethaniel will be glad for it. He squeezes her close in the darkness, and the furthest his hands will move until dawn is to draw that blanket up at the sides, wrapping it around both of them as they snuggle together and share the warmth of their bodies and their stories of the stars.


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