To Hear the Stars Speak

Somewhere Southeast of Landing

The Istan shores, shops, and gather having been duly investigated, Jethaniel and Darsce have left that island behind. They do not, however, head directly back to Xanadu. It's night where they arrive, the lights of a settlement visible below, but the dragon flicks wings and continues on instead of landing. This is not their destination, merely the nearest point thereto with a clear enough image for the transport. It's some distance yet, flying through the darkness, before the dragon swoops down through the darkness and into a narrow valley. Jethaniel's arms tense around Darsce for the descent, as the lack of visual information can make a night-time ride rather disconcerting. It's not entirely dark here; there's glows in hanging baskets set around the landing site and leading the way along the path that leads to a blocky structure that edges on a mushroom-field of variously sized antennae and radio dishes, the technology made more notable in contrast to the flickering glows.

W - aaaaaaait….! This isn't Xanadu! For a moment Darsce is disoriented, having expected the jump Between to have taken them home. The lights below are not in the pattern she is familiar with. They pass over them and her head turns to watch them recede with a brief moment of confusion before settling back into Jethaniel's arms. The wind whipping by makes it too difficult to ask questions, so she will wait to see where they're headed. In the flickering glowlight she can see the myriad of dishes and whoaaaaa, this is different. She's never been here before. When the transport dragon finally settles, she turns to ask over her shoulder, "Where are we?" Not that she minds an extra stop - she's lost track of the hour back here, but it feels early to her, having just come from Ista.

Jethaniel is sometimes capable of being surprising. Today - tonight? - appears to be one of those times. He's as relaxed as he ever is on dragonback as they proceed over the darkened landscape, making no attempt to preemptively answer questions nor ask any of his own. Once the dragon has landed, he works on relaxing his arms, and by the time Darsce turns to him, he's done so sufficiently that he may smile to her. "Fusai Observatory," he answers. Accurate, but perhaps not all that informative. A full explanation might take longer than the dragon and rider wish to wait, and so he provides the brief one, followed by a question of his own. "Do you wish to hear the stars?" If not, they may easily enough launch into the air once more and between directly home.

Darsce can feel the tension in Jethaniel's arms and in his torso as usual when she reclines against him, but save for a comforting pat or two to his thigh, she says nothing. She's been dragged here and there a'dragonback since she was a tot and so pretty much just takes them for granted. They're down and the answer means little to her. “Fusai Observatory? Where's that?" she wants to know, but in an idle sort of way, glancing down to see who's waiting for a lift to- Jethaniel's question draws another surprised look over her shoulder and a, "Oh!" then a quick, affirmative nodding accompanied by a delighted smile. "Yes please!" And she undoes her clips, slipping from the harness and down the side of the dragon without waiting for Jethaniel to dismount first as she normally does. She waits - because she has no idea which direction to head to anyway - but eagerly, with an air if suppressed impatience while she casts her glances to those odd-looking buildings, domes and dishes.

Fusai Observatory

Jethaniel's smile widens at Darsce's answer, and he nods as she slips down and provides, by her eagerness, another sort of reiteration to the affirmative response. His smile widens further as he dismounts to join her and offers her his arm. "It is southeast of Landing," he explains in answer to her earlier question as he leads her in the general direction of those buildings. "Several hours by ground transport. The distance helps mitigate the electromagnetic interference, as does the insulating effect of the valley." He indicates the vague distance, not that they can see much that far away… though, for an observatory, the place is rather well illuminated. The one at Xanadu tends to have exterior lights doused; this one has the approach path lit - though with hanging glowbaskets, not electrics. There's a light on inside their destination as well. The building is long and low, with star charts on the walls where there aren't windows and sheafs of scribbled-on paper stacked by machines with display screens, control switches, and headphones.

Sitting on a chair toward the back of the room is Azliet, her expression a thoughtful one as she scans the contents of a printed page. The chair's a middling comfortable one - nice enough to sit on for a few hours, not so comfortable as to risk falling asleep - and she's dressed in a simple lilac blouse and black trousers, suitable for physical troubleshooting when necessary but, at the moment, neatly pressed.

Darsce slips her hand into the crook of Jethaniel's and hugs it to herself. She's definitely excited at this prospect! She ahs at his answer, while still giving the area curious scrutiny. So THIS is where the starcrafters listen to the secrets of the stars! "….I've never been to Landing," she tells him after a pause that's taken with trying to interpret the information about electromagnetic interference. Maybe she'll ask later. For now she walks with him into the building and her gaze wanders over the array of controls - buttons and switches that her fingers are itching to flip! But she's learned that can cause problems, so they remain safely tucked around Jethaniel's arm. "Oh hey - isn't that Azliet?" She's met her once, on their wedding day, which being the sort of blur it was, she's unsure.

This is, at least, one of the places where the starcrafters listen… though Pern has relatively few radio observatories. The science here is not very practical, and there remains a certain focus on those crafts that may actually assist in everyday life. The secrets of the stars do not, but they are still studied - here, at Telgar, at Landing itself, other places as well. Jethaniel tilts his head to Darsce at her mention of unfamiliarity. "We may visit, if you like." He makes the offer easily, with no great degree of desire or aversion - simply acknowledging the possibility that he may share his familiarity. Landing is a place Jethaniel lived for turns and one he still visits according to the dictates of his craft. It sees more of him than Cove Hold, though this fact is best left unmentioned to his mother. "But not, I think, tonight." He has other plans, ones that involve a valley in the middle of nowhere and a great many radio dishes. Besides, Landing is not known for having a significant nightlife beyond that catering to sleepy starcrafters and overworking technicians. The starcrafter here present does not appear sleepy, but Jethaniel inclines his head. "Indeed," he says to Darsce, then lifts both head and voice to say, "Good evening."

Azliet looks up from that paper at the sound of voices, blinking once - twice - to convince her eyes to focus at the length of a building instead of an arm. Once that is achieved, she smiles. "Evening." She rises from her chair (the comfort calibration is such that she is inclined to do so, though not impelled) to approach them. "How was the Gather?"

Darsce has never considered the places starcrafters study the stars. In the past she's observed them insofar as their beauty on a clear, dark night. It was Jethaniel's star lights - and his interest and knowledge in them that have fostered her intrigue them further. Of Landing, she'd assumed this was part of it and so she mms noncommittally. Her interest in Landing would not pertain to either the nightlife or the technology, but to Jethaniel's having lived there. "Someday, maybe," she says without notable eagerness, and tacks on, "Maybe you can show me where you hung out." Heh - and she will pepper him with questions about his youth. Tonight nightlife… is not a draw for her after the races and crowds in Ista. Quiet revelation about the mysterious startalk does and she smiles gently up to him before a wider one greets Azliet. She does not gush. Not to this woman, probably one given more respect than anyone she's met in her entire life. "Hello Azliet. How are you? We've come to hear the stars speak."

"Someday," Jethaniel agrees to that visit; he's in no rush to do so. If Darsce asks on some particular occasion, he will take her. If she happens to have a day free when he's scheduled for meetings there, he might suggest it so that he can show her things in between his work, but such convenient coincidences aside, it may be a while before the opportunity arises. He is unconcerned by the potential for delay; while he is willing to show Darsce those places where he… hung out… he does not consider it important to do so. To Azliet, he says, "A reasonable example thereof." Though not an exemplar of the Gather form. "The focus was not entirely congruent with my aims, but nevertheless, it was a Gather." He does not comment (directly) on the racing. This may, if one were so inclined, be construed as an indirect comment. Certainly, it is indicative of his focus.

Azliet nods to Jethaniel about the Gather, then returns her attention to Darsce. "So you are," she says, and smiles to the younger woman. "They tend to repeat themselves." But it's Darsce's first time, so that's unlikely to be a problem. "I'm well - better with company." Her gaze flicks to the empty chairs and stations. "Everyone who could manage it slipped off to that Gather." She gives her head a slight shake, then follows it with a smile. "All the better for you to have your chance." The music of the stars awaits! Insofar as it's at all musical. The electromagnetic radiation of the stars and other space entities, transposed into the human auditory range, awaits!

Darsce considers such an outing informative of who the young man Jethaniel was and in that, she is interested. There is no urgency and it's doubtful she will press to see the place but given the invitation, she would go. He had wanted to be there. He was content there and thus it interests her. Azliet's question and Jethaniel's answer has her gaze flickering between the pair in some perplexity. "What were your aims?" she asks while tipping her head quizzically at him. She's fairly certain it wasn't to watch runner races, but his so-neutral answer regarding the gather piques her a wee bit. He didn't… have a good time? "I enjoyed it," she fills in for Azliet. "The beach was lovely, the booths were unique and the company couldn't have been better." It's her comment about the stars repeating themselves that draws her eyes back to those consoles and her thought, "Their messages must be important then." She can hear nothing unusual and so she wonders aloud, "How do we hear their voices?"

Jethaniel smiles at Darsce's question, with a slight duck of his head and lift of his eyes to compensate. "My aims were to relax." He knows the meaning of the word, or is at least capable of using it in a sentence. "As such, it was somewhat chaotic for my preference." Perhaps that's a reference to the escaped stallion, or perhaps merely to the crowds that obscured the geology and architecture he might ordinarily study. "It was enjoyable," he assures Darsce as his fingers brush to hers. Furthermore, the enjoyment derived was even beyond the standard minimum enjoyment provided by her company, though that itself is far from minimal. He's silent on the matters of the stars and how they speak, leaving that to the expert.

Azliet listens politely to their talk of the Gather, but when Darsce comes back to the stars, she smiles. "Heh. The beginning and end of the universe, given enough extrapolation." And math. There is a great deal of math required. Fortunately, there are machines here to do the calculations, so when Darsce asks how, Azliet simply turns and leads the way to one of those terminals. She lifts the headphones there off the hook. "Like this." She extends them to Darsce. "The array is aligned to a pulsar - should be a few other things in that neighborhood as well. You can change frequency with this." She indicates a large dial with numbers from 0.03 to 1. The scale appears to be a logarithmic one. There's other switches and dials, a complex set that seem to indicate something abut angle and position, one that's set to multiplex, yet another with an indicator light for 'record'…

Darsce found it relaxing! That he didn't…quite is stored in the back of her mind to sort through later. They avoided the up-close encounter with that runaway stallion that others may have experienced, but the result was that the crowds were that much more excitable and boisterous. It wasn't quiet, but Darsce fed on the energy…jut a little. She smiles at the brush of fingertips on hers and nods, mollified. He enjoyed her company, chaotic atmosphere notwithstanding. She will study the situation and adapt. For now… she listens to Azliet rattle off the technique for listening to the heavens - and in there she darts a look at Jethaniel. There are some similarities in the way they phrase things and the complexity of words chosen. Back to the array, she… tries not to look as baffled as she feels. The headphones are taken gingerly. Those, she can pretty much figure that she should put them on and so she does. "Fre…quen…cy?" Whut? She just stares at the switches and dials and though her fingers twitch, itching to see what they do, she resists the impulse to try that, a quick involuntary glance at the ceiling. That there are no doors nor telescope to send awry, is but a partial relief.

The fact that the Gather was suboptimal for Jethaniel's relaxation does not mean he will avoid such events in the future; simply that he'll attempt arrangements that involve periods of both activity and quiet. He did enjoy Darsce's company, and perhaps, to a certain extent, in visiting the Gather with her he'll learn to see it through her eyes - or at least to keep his eyes on her and be pleased by the excitement he sees there. Jethaniel listens to Azliet's explanation as well, though there's a notable difference in that he seems to comprehend it. He nods to her, then looks to Darsce. She… certainly does appear to be presenting a facade of comprehension. The correlation between such a facade and a genuine understanding is not sufficiently strong to be considered a definitive indicator. Her echoed word is, however, a moderately clear sign that she is somewhat lacking in understanding. His fingers brush to hers and provide a gentle caress. "It listens in a place, but can only hear high sounds or low ones. You may decide which." His fingers lift, drawing hers with them, and brush against the frequency dial. That one (and only that one; just because she doesn't see the machines doesn't mean they're not there to be misaligned and damaged) she may touch to adjust what is heard… though Jethaniel is being somewhat misleading to characterize it as only high or low; there is in fact a continuum of frequencies, and other controls to adjust the range… but the goal, albeit imperfectly achieved, is to keep things simple.

"Well, in a direction," Azliet notes of Jethaniel's explanation, a mild correction to his imprecision that he acknowledges with a tilt of his head. There's a whisper of static in the headphones when Darsce puts them on, electromagnetic radiation that seems initially to be nothing more than a wash of white noise. Technically, what the radio telescope receives is not at audible wavelengths, but that frequency dial recenters it to a point in that spectrum. A more technologically advanced site might use computers for data analysis, but here, trained starcrafters with the human capacity for data matching substitute for electronics. A thrum of louder sound comes through the headphones, a brief beat - like the volume of part of that static was turned up, then down again. Other parts of that static remain the same… or at least similar; there's changes in modulation and tone, subtle but certainly detectable. The louder thrum repeats itself, at very precise intervals of, to describe them very approximately, about twenty seconds. The pulses are, however, always exactly the same time apart, and many of the other patterns hidden in the blur of sound are also periodic in nature.

Darsce's adaptation will likely involve seeking some quieter periods of those gathers for Jethaniel; perhaps the artists stalls to simply enjoy or discuss art. Or the smaller harpers' gatherings to hear stories, poems and new songs. Or even the out-of-the-way spots where small tables are set up amongst garden shrubbery and glowlight to taste unusual local delicacies and sip off-label wines while enjoying muted music from afar. For now she is focused on the array before her, iceblue eyes lifting to Jethaniel's as he explains and draws her finger to the dial. She will resist the impulse to flick switches and poke buttons tonight; she wants to hear the stars sing, after all. So to that end, she will concentrate. She nods to both of them, the simple works for her, for now, but it's likely questions will arise at some point. Her expression is faintly questioning when she hears the whisper of static-like noise in the headphones. This is the star? she seems to ask, yet without words. At the thrum, her eyes widen fractionally and as the pattern of beat is repeated, a smile flickers across her mouth. Yes there is puzzlement - and a bit of disappointment as well. Her fingertips, still on that dial, turn it gently. "There are no words?" she wonders naively aloud.

There are certainly a variety of possibilities for experiments to be conducted in the socialization spaces. A series of varied trials, and analysis thereof, may permit the discovery of more mutually satisfactory means of enjoyment. At the moment, their surroundings are quiet ones - except for the voices of the stars in Darsce's ears, though they are perhaps not quite what she might have expected. Nevertheless, Jethaniel nods to that expression of question. Agreement, perhaps? Or perhaps he's simply encouraging her to continue, to further explore that soundscape. The patterns change as she changes tunings on that dial, but they're pulses of sound and static, tones and thrums. There are no words. Jethaniel's lips quirk upward and his head tilts down. "No," he says. "We do not hear words." Are there some? For the stars themselves, perhaps, or for distant civilizations whose messages float amidst that static, waiting to be decoded… they might hear words. Those here do not.

Azliet watches for a moment, then slips away to check on a few of the other stations and ensure those things that are supposed to be recording and storing those voices for later analysis are, in fact, doing so. Evidently, she trusts Darsce to be left with the device… or at least, she trusts Jethaniel sufficiently that even with the coefficient of friction on the transitive trust network, she is willing to depart.

Darsce listens to the pulsar, even while nodding understanding to Jethaniel's answer. The hiss and click-thrumbeats do, in fact, repeat over and over, just as they've told her. Her expression is touched with disappointment - no…sigh…voices - nevertheless she is rapt, her face filled with wonder. "It's like… nothing I've ever heard before. It sounds like… a machine." Her eyes lift to Jethaniel, only then noting Azliet's absence. She does not remark on it. "It could be code then? What's this one saying?" She removes the headphones and extends them to him, obviously thinking if he hears this particular pulsar, he can tell her. Also she has to know, "Do they all sound the same?"

Jethaniel watches that expression on Darsce's face and trails his fingers lightly against her shoulder. "They are distinctive," he agrees with a smile. "There is a similarity, given the nature of the forces involved. The stars are, however, on a somewhat larger scale." His hand lifts from her shoulder to accept those offered headphones, but he simply holds them for a moment. "A pulsar is like a lighthouse in the sky, a vast electromagnetic machine that we see by its flashes." As for what it's saying? "I do not know," he answers her, then puts on the headphones for himself. He is proven correct in his assertion as he listens, and does not modify his answer. He does, however, edge one earcup back to listen to Darsce as well. "Not precisely. There are similarities, but the periodicities and frequencies vary. The categorization is complex."

Darsce ohs quietly and nods. "Different. Hm. That's very interesting!" The wheels are turning in her mind, an idea half-formed, but left unvoiced for the moment. To that hand on her shoulder, she dips her head and with a smile, presses her cheek to it briefly - before he removes it to take those headphones. His analogy of lighthouses is a good one; having sailed with her grandfather and uncle aboard the Vega Run several times, she knows the importance of their message. "So…maybe stars are like warning beacons. But they're not actually machines. Not manmade, anyway. Right? They occur naturally." She pauses to grapple with the concept: "And yet their…" she gropes for the terminology she's heard, "…emissions are regular and repeat precisely." Tone, beat, note and silent pauses, she isn't quite sure what to call the click-hiss she heard. "Why aren't they random?" Again she's wondering aloud, her expression awed as her eyes, shining with the intrigue of it all, seek his. "May we hear another star speak?"

Jethaniel nods for Darsce's interest in things different, and then a slow smile grows across his face. "How does one define a machine?" His hand returns to Darsce's shoulder, resting there lightly. "The universe is an expanding system of nested rotational elements. Each star is a combustion engine which conducts elemental fusion to produce electromagnetic energy. There exist nontrivial similarities to a turbine or a clock; there exists no intentionality to the creation… but certain things acknowledged as machines were initially discovered as unintended side effects." His smile remains, but it's tugged slightly sideways. "Is purpose required?" A question possible on as many levels as there are nested rotations of the universe. "A pulsar is a star surrounded by a thick cloud," Jethaniel explains. "The cloud blocks the emissions, but it has a gap. A break in the clouds." He smiles. "A pulsar's cloud, however, remains in a consistent formation and spins around the star at a certain rate. Thus, the regularity of the pulses." To be warnings might require intentionality, but there's another functionality generally provided by lighthouses. "They are useful as reference points; the patterns are recognizable ones, given sufficient familiarity, and may be used to place other signals or to provide calibration. Given a knowledge of the pulsars in the sky, time and position are mutually derivable from each other." There are, however, many stars. Jethaniel smiles. "What do you hope to hear?" he asks as he eases off the headphones. He's curious, but this is neither his field of expertise nor his domain, and so his only answer for her question is, "We may ask."

Darsce's expression clouds subtly as she listens to Jethaniel. She remains silent to his questions, simply listening to his elaboration on the universe. She tucks her chin while giving the complex array of settings used to study the stars a very thoughtful look. With her lashes still downcast, she slowly shrugs one shoulder. "I never gave much thought to defining a machine, but I suppose any system that performs a function would be considered one," she allows. "Though I was emphasizing that they work so perfectly and yet they are not manmade. And I find it remarkable that they do." The next question has her drawing a sudden breath and her chin lifts, somber eyes lift to his with a glint of hurt in them. "Required? No, I…" She flounders, "That's not…" What she meant. She regards him quietly, gathering her thoughts in an attempt to better express them. "It would be ignorant of me to discount it outright though." A pause, "So I'm going to wonder." And she half-turns away, perhaps not wishing to see if he is amused or skeptical. Perhaps she's being dreamy or foolish. Worse things have been thought of her. Her answer is given almost braced for his laughter to follow, "I wanted to hear what others sounded like compared to that one is all. And I wonder if the many stars' voices arranged and pieced together with skill would make a symphony to rival the harpers compositions." She flashes a glance his way and adds in defiant breathlessness, "Because I think it would!"

Darsce's silence, the expression on her face, brings uncertainty to Jethaniel's consideration of the stars and their placement. His thoughts of the universe are - to him - pleasing ones; a sense of wonder, analogized to other pleasures of craft and careful work. His questions are philosophical ones… or at least, they are intended as such. Their perception - as with the perception of a pulsar, through that circling cloud - may be otherwise. "They are not manmade." His voice is a little quieter, his hand withdrawing from her shoulder. "And they are quite remarkable." He's uncertain, now. Her reaction to his question makes him even more so. His intent was rhetorical; the marvelous machine of the heavens is made - to him - more wonderful by the fact that it is not some system developed for a purpose, merely… there, full of unintended consequence and natural coincidence. The universe does not need intentionality. It may have none, but for all that, it succeeds better than Jethaniel. His pleasure ebbs away, his hands retreating to a spot behind his back. He does not interrupt Darsce's search for words, and so he does not speak until she's turned away. "I likely am." Ignorant, that is; if she presents the situation so… for Jethaniel has drawn his conclusions, led more by his own desire for wonder than any rational thought. He's quiet again, nodding for her first reason, lowering his head for the second. Her glance is unseen, his eyes downcast and his voice low and quite serious. "Likely. I do not possess the skill." His fingers, behind his back, tense. He might say more, but he swallows those words. "I will ask." Jethaniel turns to find Azliet so that he can obtain information concerning what further stars may be heard.

It's possible they share the same wonder but words… they get in the way sometimes. Darsce is having trouble discerning between rhetorical and skeptical questions. She feels his hand leave her shoulder first and then his quiet tone, the loss of pleasure turns her back and her eyes, shadowed, troubled seek him. That he doesn't scoff does a great deal to halt her internal withdrawal and enables her to consider his. Perhaps they're seeing the same thing from different angles - the perfection, the remarkable order. "I don't believe it!" she says firmly of his alleged ignorance. His tightened fingers are unseen, but she can hear the tension in his tone. Of the skill required to harness the music of the stars, "I don't either." She watches him turn to go, inhales. "Jethaniel? Please don't." What did she say? What, to hurt him so? She steps after him, both hands reaching for him. "Don't go where I can't follow. Please?" That he's holding his thoughts back is not lost on her. "What is wrong?"

His name stops Jethaniel from moving. Don't, Darsce says, and he remains where he is, those tensed fingers shifting from his back to his sides. They remain there as she reaches for him, his gaze seeking the floor - then nothing, his eyes closing at the furtherance of her request. He is going where he cannot say anything to hurt her, or at least… that was his intent. His fingers twitch tighter as he breathes in, then are forcibly straightened over the course of his exhalation. His eyes open once again, and while he does not move substantively, nor lift his head, those grey eyes flick to Darsce. "I do not wish to prevent your enjoyment of the stars. I…" His gaze lowers, his voice quiets. "…would prefer to share it. They are… I consider them fascinating. I have not found that diminished by the attempt at analysis; I cannot possibly find the answers." Not that impossibility stops him from seeking. That cessation… Jethaniel glances briefly to Darsce, then looks away again. "I can, however, refrain from speculation."

Darsce is confused. It shows in her expression as she works her way around to step in front of Jethaniel and dip to find his eyes…only to find them closed. Shutting her out. Retreating from her. Her voice is pained, "You… aren't preventing my enjoyment of the stars." Analysis? She looks puzzled, but no, he can't see that. He will hear it in her voice though. "Why should it diminish anything? Why should you refrain from yours?" She's totally nonplused. How did she give him the impression he should not share his wonder with her? "I was… I thought you might laugh at my speculation." This… distance is distressing. "They are fascinating," she agrees firmly. "I see… order and…mystery. What if there is a purpose? What if they have something to tell us? What if we miss it? I want to know it! That's all." With a breath out, she says regretfully, "I don't expect to. But I can wonder." Her fingers reach to brush his arm. "Don't," she breathes of refraining from speculation.

Jethaniel might characterize it as giving Darsce distance, not shutting her out. Stepping away from her, so that he will not trample over whatever it is she wants… as, to his analysis, he began to do. Hence her retreat, and his uncertainty as to its cause contributes to the depth of his. If he does not know what he has done wrong, he cannot avoid it. If he cannot avoid it precisely… he may retreat entirely. At least, he could; Darsce asks otherwise. Her assertion that he does not impair her enjoyment, he nods to… but slowly. He is uncertain of it, but given the potential set of errors (of which he has assuredly committed at least one), it is plausible that his primary failure is in reading the situation, though his initial analysis assumes his error is more significant. Why should he refrain from his? "It displeased you." He knows what Darsce's fascination looks like; that is not what he saw. That he might laugh at her is what makes his head lift, the concept a sufficiently incongruous one that his eyes are questioning as they seek hers. "I…" he begins, then simply shakes his head in a silent denial. What does he know of the stars? …what does she? Jethaniel listens to what Darsce sees, his eyes remaining on her. "They… tell us many things of a scientific nature," he says, though there's a certain hesitance to the words. A shyness of sorts, as he tries once more to say what seemed, before, to turn wrong. "I… do not deny the possibility of purpose, but… if it exists, is it in any form I could possibly comprehend? A spinner cannot understand me. How shall I even approach understanding a star?"

Darsce doesn't always read situations precisely either. And she doesn't understand this situation, let alone the stars. All she knows is that they are beautiful and their sounds can be heard - with instrumentation. "It wasn't that," she says of his analysis, struggling to put her emotion into logical thought. "I was thinking in a different direction than pure mechanism. Of something… more. When you spoke of mechanical systems and asked if purpose was required, I felt that you didn't want to hear it." Her eyes likewise hold Jethaniel's. "I was hurt." Her mouth forms an unhappy line as she acknowledges, "I hurt you by letting my feelings get the upper hand; I'm sorry." Those things she says first because to her they are more important. Of the stars telling scientific things, she can only nod her belief that they do. "I want to learn about them from you," she says sincerely. She has no knowledge of science. "I don't know…" she says of understanding stars, "…maybe by studying them and listening to them?" A pensive, half-smile, twists her lips. "You probably think I'm silly, but if they have voices they have something to say. That's what I think."

"Ah," Jethaniel says quietly. "I… would like very much to hear of something more." His eyes remain on Darsce's, and his voice is slow, seeking words carefully and earnest. "Purpose is… I find its implications constraining. Tools have purpose; a thing cannot easily extend beyond its purpose. I might prefer a more phenomenological term. Intentionality, or… meaning." It's a matter of semantics and the associations of words, one that contributed to misinterpretation. To her apology, he answers, "As am I." The stars communicate in electromagnetism; the words he and Darsce use may sometimes be nearly as difficult to understand. There are mysteries in any distance. "I do know one thing they say." Jethaniel reaches for Darsce's hand, his touch overly, hesitantly soft as his fingers curve against hers. "I am here." So the stars say. So Jethaniel says, and he squeezes her hand gently, then slightly lowers his head. "I am not a starcrafter. I do not have the expertise to ask them, nor the opportunity to conduct sufficient study. Nevertheless. I… do not want them to merely be a warning. I want them to tell us yes, not… no. I wish for them to have so many things to say that we may never hear them all."

At Jethaniel's words, the twist of Darsce's lips relaxes into something less rueful. Somewhat puzzled, her head tips back as she considers his point of view. Her lips soundlessly repeat 'phenomenological' while her brows quirk inquiringly. She doesn't interrupt him to ask for the meaning, however, focusing intent on following. Meaning - that sounds about right and she nods as he finishes. Her mouth flickers into a curve at his apology, tremulous at first, the corner of one pulling a lopsided query to his claim to know something from the stars. Bemused, still she's aware when her hand is taken, her fingers respond to his, seeking to twine gently, almost hesitantly with his as he continues and finishes, "Nor do I, but I'm glad they say you are here." She tips her head towards his, her smile grows, warming her eyes. "There are countless stars. Surely their message must be equally infinite."

"I am not certain the stars care about me," Jethaniel says with a faint smile of self deprecation that implies he believes they do not. "Though I may say I am here. The stars… say they are here. A part of the universe, as are we. I can hear that, even if I do not know the words." His touch settles to a closer one, more certain of its welcome; perhaps because of that twine of her fingers to his, or perhaps the smile, but he nods regarding those stars. "The universe is expanding. There exists the potential for a great many things." His mouth slowly tugs to a further smile, a soft expression to answer her warmth. "The infinity may be countable, but it is, nevertheless, infinite."

Amused, the corners of Darsce's lips curl further. Of course the stars don't care, says the silent merriment dancing in her iceblue eyes. Nevertheless, she snorts a feigned outrage, "Well, they should!" If Darsce commanded the universe, everyone and everything would care about him, because she does. He hasn't mocked or dismissed her unusual thoughts about the stars' voices and this eases the last bit of wary tension in her body, allowing the line of her shoulders to fully relax; she steps close to him and smiles up into his eyes, "Counting might get repetitive." And while some activities invite repetition, for Darsce, others do not. "I prefer to dream and wonder. I don't think I want there to come a time when there is no mystery left amongst the stars."

"Perhaps," Jethaniel answers Darsce, but it's with a smile tugging at his lips and an amused indulgence in his eyes - not for the stars themselves, or for what messages and wonders they may hold, but only that they could consider him significant. To the stars, he is not, because the universe is not entirely ordered according to Darsce's preferences, though she may certainly arrange for certain portions of it to be as she likes. That arrangement may be unique, or it may (regarding certain elements) be repetitive. The process of defining it is an iterative one, though hopefully one more interesting than simply counting. The mathematical forms for interacting with infinities tend, instead of iterating directly, to define iterative functions and processes. She may do the same, albeit less precisely, and obtain a routine. Some of those may also become repetitive, and Jethaniel nods. "It might." His fingers are still twined with hers, but he puts his other arm around her and leans in close. "We may always dream." The stars are sufficiently vast, and his mind is sufficiently open. Some things are more plausible than others, but while Jethaniel may make note of the science, he will not mock and he will listen. He leans in a little further and touches his lips softly to hers. "Would you like to hear another?" So she said, before. "We may ask." He would give it to her, but this is not his domain. He said before he would ask; now, he invites her that they may do so together.

Darsce's smile grows a touch playful at Jethaniel's indulgence. "There are some repetitious activities I know can be far from monotonous," she tells him as his arm encircles her and he leans in. "However, for what I have in mind, I think you might lose count." She snickers, fluttering him a saucy wink just before their lips touch. As he lifts his head, she murmurs, "Yes please to all of the above." The the dreaming, the learning of and listening to the stars - and the repetition. Especially that, but not here where Azliet might walk in on them.

Darsce may, in fact, have certain repetitious activities in which she wishes to indulge. Jethaniel acknowledges this with a duck of his head, a soft smile on his lips before that lowering transitions into the lean necessary to provide sufficient proximity and the curve of them changes to permit that kiss. As his lips draw back, he murmurs, "I expect the enumeration is not where you would wish me to focus." While Jethaniel is capable of some degree of multitasking, there do exist limits to his focus. It is likely that he can both dream and learn; the combination of listening and learning also seems feasible. The investigation of repetitive motion… could be educational, and may certainly be accompanied by auditory data, but is nevertheless best constrained to a dream at present. It may be further explored at a future point more conducive to such things. The current one is, given the equipment which surrounds them, more suited to investigation of the stars. As such, while Jethaniel nods to Darsce concerning all of the above, it is the star-listening with which he proceeds, adjusting his arm around her so he may accompany her to find Azliet. The opportunity for further listening may be arranged - there's a few actively being monitored that may be heard, and others of historical or potential analytic interest available in the form of recordings.

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