Fox 1, 6104 RTR (21 Dec 2000) Dragon attempts to find out more about her situation, and win the support of her fellow Aspects.
(Caroban) (Dream Realms) (Envoy) (A Dream of Seven Sisters) (Spheres of Magic)
This is a cabin-like chamber with distinctly organic construction, with hardly anything in the way of angular surfaces, as the chamber itself is nearly spherical, though the floor is relatively flat. A fatty growth serves as a bed, and fur-bearing membranes serve as blankets and sheets. A closed sphincter is located directly above the bed, and another, larger one – aligned so as to serve as a doorway – is visible in the far wall. The walls are warm, and the faint sound of a pulse can be heard throbbing throughout, as well as low rushes of the breathing of a truly massive creature. Light is provided by means of luminescent globes set into the ceiling, and a basin with strange growths on it provides water and quite possibly other features, should one be able to figure out their purpose.

After testing the food dispenser, Dragon finally ate enough to get her strength back. Feeling better now, she continues to explore the operation of the data terminal in her room, hoping to discover a way to tap into Envoy's senses or else to get through to the Paradise Library.

The terminal seems to be providing information based on the fiction that this environment is indeed some sort of starship, and an organic one at that, though with not so much the elegance of a space-faring creature such as a true Stela-Rhyan – but rather a sort of organic attempt to replicate all of the features of a "star ship" of a more mechanical nature.

The location? Orbiting Morpheus, by all indications. The ship is The Avatar. And the central processor is … Inala. As Dragon attempts to look through the system, she is often beset with a sensation of being watched.

Dragon tries to find an external view, curious to see ifthere is an actual manifestation of the Avatar on Morpheus, or if it is just a dream illusion – as well as to see if anything has changed regarding the Seven Sisters' mountain range on the surface.

It takes some fiddling around, as the controls are unreasonably difficult. It's as if the computer itself is being deliberately obstinate. And, given the situation, that's not out of the question. At last, however, Dragon is able to get some views of the surface. The surface looks more like it did in the Dream Realm than she remembers it ever appearing or being described as on the planet itself … with the exception that its impossible sense of perspective (that being that the crossroads is in the center of the seven mountains, yet all seven mountains can be seen through any one archway) is not maintained, for all that can be told.

Rather, there is a cluster of seven mountains of varying size, with a mound in the center. One of the mountains is by far the tallest, and even though Dragon has never seen it at such a bird's eye angle, it's most certainly Inala's, based of what she recalls of the layout.

There is another mountain that is very close in size to Inala's, though. Actually, it's right next to it, going counter-clockwise. It is enshrouded in mists, however, prohibiting a clear view of any useful details from this vantage.

Adjusting the controls once more, Dragon tries to pan the view around in an attempt to locate the Gateway Tower or the ancient Silent-Ones beacon. "Mists," she murmurs as she works. "That close, it could be Sunala. And I know that Blakat and Barada have been visited, and at least some energy was transferred to Gorphat."

Yes, Dragon manages to pinpoint the location of the beacon, thanks to a pulsing red light which seems far brighter from here than one would expect at its scale, so far down on the surface. With a bit of triangulation, and thanks to Dragon's access to Envoy's photographic memory, the location of the Gateway Tower can be pinpointed, though it's encased in a mass of crystal that would make it impossible to enter or exit.

"Would other Avatars show up as manifestations on Morpheus?" the Dragon wonders out loud. She tries to pan back to the mountains, and tries to resolve more detail on the crossroads, hoping to identify each of the mountains by the archways leading to them.

Finding the crossroads is a real chore at first, but at last … Dragon manages to find what must be the Crossroads … buried under the central mountain. The "paths" that lead out to the mountains must amount to tunnels through the crystalline structure, radiating outward like spokes of a wheel.

Dragon certainly hadn't noticed this while on the crossroads … but then, the odd perspective made it hard for her to focus in the first place there. "Logically, thatwould be Mount Dronnel, but it could also be something purely symbolic."

Actually, as Dragon refers to some memories of Ashdodite geography, the actual Seven Sisters range is not a perfect circle by any means, and it frames the city of Babel. Mount Dronnel is yet another mountain along the sides of Babel, and not in the center of the Sisters, per se, at all.

"An artificial mountain?" the Aspect wonders. "The Tower of Babel itself?" As she digs deeper into what she knows about Babel, other elements come to her attention. "These controls," she whispers, looking again at the odd terminal. "Babelites had Plaguebringers, so this ship might be a compromise between a Stela-Rhyan and a Plaguebringer. In which case, thinking like an Eeee … it should be armed with weapons." Dragon eyes the controls a bit more suspiciously now. She wouldn't put it past any of the Sisters to takepotshots at each others' mountains if they had the capability.

If the ship is armed with weapons, no one has thoughtfully put controls for them in Dragon's chamber. However, a look through ship's maps and schematics brings up a lot of references that could be construed as having something to do with weaponry. Yes, it's quite possible that this thing is armed. What exactly that might mean within the context of this dream allegory is anyone's guess, however.

However, during Dragon's further searching, she does manage to get a better view of the "crossroads". It would seem that the mountain that is almost so fully formed as Inala's would be … Barada's. The reason it is next to Inala's is that the mountains must progress around clockwise in birth order. (Or, that is, they may follow one of the more popular rankings of birth order in the myths – which disagree with each other at times in this regard.) Barada, always considered the youngest and therefore the last, would end up coming around and next to Inala, generally considered to be the eldest and therefore the first.

Dragon decides to err on the side of caution. If the Avatar is armed, then there isn't much point in trying to escape from it to the surface. At least, not yet. And as much as she's learned about this construct, none of it helps to answer her basic question: What does Inala want with a non-Eeee Avatar? "Barada probably knows," she says, and grins to the viewing lens. "How about it, Inala? Can you call your little sister from here? I'm sure she'd love to know you can spy on things from up here."

The viewing lens does not respond, nor does it do so much as blink. If this vessel is truly controlled by Inala, she must not feel compelled to infuse each and every inch of it with her being.

As a test, Dragon tries to get a better view of the mist-shrouded mountain. Barada would probably notice someone trying to see through the cover, she reasons.

Dragon's attempts to try to pry through the mist are frustratingly futile. No matter how close she tries to zoom in, or how ever many filters she puts on it, the mist is impenetrable.

Getting nowhere, she tries to see what can be made out of Sunala's realm.

Sunala's realm looks desolate and lifeless, appropriately enough. At the summit, it looks like there is a stepped pyramid-shaped temple. All along the road of red stone, forming a line winding up the mountain, there are statues of Sunala here and there, arranged in no particular fashion, and often off-kilter, giving the look of a long-neglected graveyard.

Dragon makes a note of the odd placement of the statues (who would put them there, after all?) and pans clockwise to the next mountain in the birth order.

Next, Dragon finds a mountain that must belong to Gorphat. It looks terribly vague, save for a flickering flame somewhere amidst all the vague mists. It seems less an impenetrable mist, as in the case of Barada's mountain, but as if there simply isn't as much to see here. It seems almost Dragon's imagination, but she hears a plaintive twang of an out-of-tune lute…

The scene of the mountains which Dragon had been viewing flickers for a moment, briefly overlaid by a view of what looks like some kind of holding cell – for mages, judging by the runes carved around it and the substances used – then Gorphat's mountain comes clearly into view again.

Dragon blinks at this. A glimpse of the waking world, or something else? She pans over to the next mountain.

Next is the realm of Blakat. It is somewhat vaguely defined, but not so much as Gorphat's. What can be seen, however, seems to defy perceptions of three-dimensional space. The sheer nonsense of it causes Dragon pain just to look upon it, let alone try to comprehend it.

Closing her eyes, she touches the control to pan blindly towards the next mountain.

The next mountain comes into view, but it's almost completely vague and void, without definition. According to Dragon's calculations, this should be the mountain of Rephath, Sister of Vengeance.

Dragon considers this. To her knowledge, nobody has visited Rephath's realm yet. If the other unvisited realms appear the same, then it could explain the need for special dreamers to make them more real.

Eager to test her theory, Dragon pans to the next mountain in the chain.

The sixth mountain comes into view … Zakaro's, according to her calculations. And it is just as ill defined as Rephath's. The next clockwise move would bring her back to Barada's mountain once more, considerably more defined and resolved.

"Interesting," Dragon comments to the air. It doesn't bother her that she talks to herself, apparently. "But is it significant? What are the undefined areas using Morpheus' power for?"

The image of the blurry mountain seems to sharpen – then Dragon realizes it has changed, to the same cell she glimpsed earlier. This time, the door from it is open, and an Eeee in dark clothes standing in it seems to beckon to her. Almost as soon as she sees it, it is gone.

Dragon frowns at this. Definitely not memories. Something is happening to Envoy, and is managing to slip through the security around her cabin. Does that mean the situation is one that would normally require Dragon's attention? "Enough guessing," she mutters, and goes to try her door.

The door is still unlocked. Father must have forgotten to lock it when he dropped her off here.

Out in the corridor, Dragon turns and makes her way towards the Bridge again, with a determined look to her features and much more energy than last time.

As organic as the surroundings may be, and as malleable as dreams typically are, fortunately the layout is exactly as Dragon remembers it, and soon she is making her way through the corridors, and to the "lift" that allows her access to the Bridge level. She doesn't encounter any Aspects along the way – so far.

Before her is the lift, and though the door seems a bit fussy and won't open on the first try, she manages to get it open, revealing the lift beyond, and the "fingers" inside that allow one to go up or down.

Dragon climbs into the tube as she did before, and starts to crawl in the direction she wants to go.

The fingers helpfully start shoving Dragon along … in the wrong direction. Down.

"Now what?" she complains, and tries to make headway against the fingers.

Simply scrabbling upward doesn't seem to do much except to temporarily halt Dragon's otherwise downward descent. She's about an arm's length below the entrance to the lift, and the organic door is slowly closing.

The Dragon stops struggling, and lets the fingers carry her along. At least it's taking her somewhere other than where she started.

After a few steps of movement … the fingers stop moving Dragon along. Actually, some of them seem to be trying to push her up. Some seem to still be trying to push her down. The result is … rather ticklish.

"Now I know there is a problem," Dragon growls at the confused fingers. "Why not just stop and let me make my own way, eh? Then you wouldn't have to fight each other."

Perhaps Dragon's growling is persuasive. After a bit, the fingers stop moving altogether.

With a sigh, the Aspect tries to climb upwards again, hoping the fingers will stay inert for now.

Some of the fingers can't resist an opportunity to tickle at Dragon as she crawls past, but the majority of the fingers seem resigned for the moment to let her have her way.

Growling at the ticklers, she makes her way up towards the Bridge level. She's not sure what tickling is supposed to be like, but she decides it is definitely annoying in any case.

After a long and tedious climb, Dragon at last reaches the top. It takes some banging to get the door to belch open, but at last she spills out and into the corridor, most unceremoniously.

Getting herself back in order, the Dragon makes her way down the corridor towards the Bridge, keeping alert for activity in the numerous side-passages.

Actually, it seems that the activity comes not in the side-passages, but rather in the walls. As Dragon heads down the corridor, she catches signs of convulsing in the walls … and there's a definite sensation that the corridor is a bit cozier than it did a moment ago.

Dragon picks up her pace, nearly running now. She doesn't want to get squished and squirted again.

As Dragon picks up the pace, the tunnel closes and rumbles behind her, and she can see the walls in front of her twitching, trying to move quickly enough to catch her. It looks like they're likely to succeed. "Nearly running" isn't going to cut it.

In desperation, she drops down and runs on all fours, growling deeper.

All dignity cast aside, and her robes looking to be in pretty bad shape from the exercise, Dragon however does manage to bolt on ahead, with the hallway itself nipping at her heels (and tail). Just as it looks like she's going to get mashed between the closing hallway and the closed Bridge door ahead … well … no, wait, it does look like she's going to get mashed between the closing hallway and the closed Bridge door ahead!

"Enough is enough!" she snarls, and sends a gout of flame ahead of her towards the door.

The door lets out an audible shriek of anguish, and its scorched partitions convulse and retract … just in time for the Dragon to go barreling through, as the corridor slaps wetly closed behind her!

The Bridge
A wide, oval-shaped area, this place seems strangely organic; the floors, walls, and ceilings, all have the feel of fine leather, and are warm to the touch, like living skin. On the curved walls, smoky screens show glimpses of the stars and of the planet Morpheus, while curious instruments protrude here and there from various "stations". The stations all have comfortable seatingbefore them, cushioned and conforming to the bodies of their occupants.

The main view screen shows a different view: It's a corridor in a building that Dragon is able to recognize (from the earlier events played from Envoy's memories) as the Watch Headquarters. An Eeee is visible, in front, looking as if he's scouting ahead.

Presently, the crew are at their stations. Mother occupies what would be the captain's seat, with Father beside her. Probe is at what appears to be the "science station", peering into a device that looks akin to a pair of binoculars attached to a box, and Child and Playmate are both at the "communications" area, intent on playing around with their controls, and occasionally switching positions.

After tumbling to a stop from her rush, Dragon gets back to her feet in the center of the chamber. "Will somebody tell me what is going on?"

Mother turns from watching the main screen to the doorway as Dragon barrels through it. Anger flashes over her face, quickly replaced by loving concern. "Dragon – are you well?" she asks.

"Well, considering that I'm not smeared across the walls out there," Dragon says, pointing back towards the doorway, "I'd say I'm acceptably 'well' for the moment."

Child looks up from her station and cheerily waves at Dragon. "Hiiiiii! I'm at home base, so you can't tag meeeee!"

"I am pleased to hear that," Mother says, patting Father reassuringly on the arm. "Go see to her, dear."

Smiling to Child, Dragon turns back towards Mother. "Too busy to talk to me yourself, I see. Must be a full-time job, being the boss."

"It is, Dragon," Mother says, gently, "As I think you well know."

"Then why do you want it, Mother?" Dragon asks calmly. "It's not exactly fun. You must have a good reason to give up so much of your own free time, yes?"

Father rises from his chair, walking toward the visitor. "Dragon … we should talk."

Dragon glances at Father, and purses her lip. "Why, Father? Is there something I shouldn't be seeing here? Or do I just need to be put out of Mother's way again?"

Father stops in place, staring at the Dragon for a moment, then says, "You are being argumentative again. That only destroys the peace in our family."

Mother focuses on the forward view screen, which follows the progress of the Eeee through a side corridor of the watch tower. The Eeee pushes back at the monitor suddenly, and the view shifts, as if the "camera" were pressing back against the wall. Footsteps sound nearby.

"Argumentative?" Dragon asks, with exaggerated innocence. "The hallway tried to kill me, Father. Not stop me, or push me back. Envoy is obviously in a dangerous situation. And can you tell me when you last had any say in deciding a course of action? Hasn't Mother really been making all of the decisions for Envoy?"

"Father's been deciding what to do with you," Mother murmurs, softly. The footsteps recede, and the monitor follows the same dark-dressed bat as earlier.

Father looks out the doorway. The corridor has returned to its usual structure. He tries to get the door to close, but it only twitches feebly. "Actually, Playmate has contributed a great deal to decision-making as well, and coordinates nicely with Child. Dragon, are you certain the hallway tried to kill you? I think you are reading too much into things."

To the back of Mother's head, Dragon asks, "What does Inala need an Avatar for?" To Father she asks, "And in all honesty, Father … could you throw Mother into a cell if you felt it necessary, like you have done to me?"

Father says, "Your question is based upon a false pretense: namely, that I have thrown you into a cell."

"Nonetheless, I haven't seen you urging Mother to make peace with me," Dragon points out. "Have you questioned anything she's done?"

Father balks, "Of course … not." He pauses a moment, blinking at Dragon, and then looks to Mother, as if for instruction.

"Where is she taking us?" Dragon asks Father. "Do you even know? Has she bothered to tell you?"

"Inala doesn't need an Avatar. She wanted one because she thought it would be fun, and because Envoy deserved a reward for performing so well," Mother explains, as if to Child, after another few moments of concentrating on the viewscreen, which now shows a garden scene, with the same Eeee still just ahead. "And Father has no reason to urge me to make peace with you, because he knows that's what I want, Dragon. Only you wish to pursue a pointless divisiveness."

"Is it fun then, Mother?" Dragon asks, arching her eye-ridges. "Worth all the trouble of putting up with me? Dragons don't make for good slaves, I'm afraid. Sorry about that. How about if I knit you a sweater or something in compensation?"

Father looks back to Envoy. "Sarcasm and bitterness will not take the place of logic, Dragon. And, no, I do not know our whereabouts, nor do I know our destination."

Turning back to Father, Dragon asks, "And were you not created to keep us out of just this sort of situation? You were our common sense, Father. Why do you submit to Mother so easily? What do you actually know about her, or her motives?"

"I am obliged to, Dragon," Father answers. "My relationship to you, Probe and Child is not dependent upon any of your motives."

"But she is not one of US!" Dragon snarls. "She does not belong here, and it is her presence which has caused all of this so-called divisiveness. We were fine before she came."

Father says, "If you are trying to turn me against Mother, it is essential that you realize that I am incapable of taking any action against her."

Dragon pauses and grins. "Well then, are you equally incapable of taking any action against me?" she asks.

Father frowns. "It depends upon the action, and what might prompt it."

"Well," Dragon says, "hypothetically, if I were to step up behind Mother and bring my fists down very hard towards the top of her head, what would your reaction be?"

Father says, "Well, first of all, I would highly disapprove of such totally unacceptable behavior. I would then be forced to restrain you, and to 'throw you in a cell', as you put it, while I tend to Mother's injuries."

Dragon nods. "A reasonable reaction, I think. But what if I were to attack Probe in the same way? Is Probe as important to protect as Mother is?"

Mother winces at Dragon's line of commentary, and for a moment the monitor wavers. Then it steadies, showing a long corridor through a building.

Father nods. "Yes, I would be required to behave in the same manner. I should note here that your hypothetical situation presumes that I did not already see you as a possible threat and that I did nothing to interpose myself between you and your target in the first place."

"Now then," Dragon asks, "what if I did something that did not directly threaten anyone, but which I would consider to be … fun? Or entertaining? Inala wants me to be happy, doesn't she?"

Father blinks. "You would need to be more specific. The added directives that place 'fun' over other concerns are somewhat contradictory, and I have not wholly resolved how to react to them in a consistent manner."

"Well, you know how I enjoy problem solving and logic puzzles," Dragon says, sitting down on her haunches in the middle of the floor and facing the viewscreen. "Perhaps something like that. A game we could all play together."

Child squeals. "A game!"

"That seems … all right, Dragon," Mother ventures, cautiously, looking briefly from the screen to the Aspect seated on the floor.

Father's posture relaxes a bit, now that Mother has declared that the idea is "all right".

Dragon watches the scene on the screen for a moment. "I bet we could cause one of the plants in the garden to grow into a knot that nobody could undo. Magic is fun, and it feels good too, so wouldn't that be a game we'd all like?"

Mother smiles at Dragon. "That's a good thought. We should do that some time soon."

"Why not now?" Dragon asks. "The garden is right there, and it's been so long since we've tried any magic, or even just sung. I miss it." To the others she asks, "Don't you miss it too?"

Child, caught up in the moment, squeals, "Yes!" She starts hopping around, despite a disapproving frown from Playmate.

Father says, "I see no harm in it."

"It's not like we're busy with anything else now," Dragon adds, and looks towards the Probe. "Child, can you get Probe to join in too? We need her to really feel the magic, after all."

Child dashes over to Probe. "Surrrrre!" Probe looks more than a bit disgruntled at getting yanked away from her station, but is soon distracted by the unusual prospect of seeing all the other Aspects in the same location, after a long absence on Dragon's part. Probe stares at Dragon.

Dragon holds a hand out to the Probe, and the other to Child. "We should join hands, I think. We've never tried this while we were all … well … separate like this before."

From the captain's chair, Mother seems hesitant, looking at the view and the Eeee, beckoning to her, then she shakes her head. She hops down from the chair and offers her hands to her fellow Aspects, one to Father, one to Dragon.

Dragon takes Mother's hand, unsure how her presence may affect things, but curious to find out.

Child grabs one of Dragon's free hands, and Probe seems about to grab the other, but Child grabs onto Probe as well. Father takes Mother's other hand … and then Playmate bounces up, joining the circle, grabbing the device Probe was staring into, which disconnects from the station with a pop.

With a little shuffling around, at last all the Aspects are holding hands – with Probe's device being somehow classified as being in the circle as well, grabbed onto by both Child and Probe between the two of them.

Father says, in his deep voice, "If you will lead, Dragon?"

Dragon visualizes the structure for the Growth spell, and starts off with a single pure note for the others to synchronize to.

Father joins in with a deep bass, Probe in a baritone, Child a soprano. Probe's device lets out a warbling note into the mix, and Mother and Playmate chime in as well.

Continuing on, Dragon leads the others through progression of the spell, leaving the gathering of the magic largely to Probe and Father, while Child provides emotional boost to give it life. With what is left of her concentration, Dragon also tries to monitor how Mother and Playmate participate.

Mother and Playmate seem to be just "singing along", not really directing at all, but still in communion enough with the others to keep up. Both Mother and Playmate have hints of expressions – Playmate more so than Mother – of "Wow, this is something new!" that seems to override their usual concerns.

The viewscreen jostles a little, and there's a transmission at the communications station. "Quiet!" the Eeee hisses. "What are you doing?"

Watching Child and Probe now, Dragon tries to get an idea of whether the spell is working or not, as she begins to repeat the underlying base for it. She'll just keep on repeating the spell until one of the Aspects that is actually in touch with Envoy's senses signals her to stop. The activity in the viewscreen is barely noticed by her.

There's a rustling of growing plant life that can be heard over the com speaker. "What the – " the Eeee can be heard to exclaim.

Noisy fellow, Dragon thinks, and subtly alters the spell to have the plant knot around his foot. That should be amusing enough for the others.

"YIIIIII!" the bat can be heard to exclaim, and at that point, Playmate and Child burst out in an uncontrollable case of the giggle fits.

Dragon risks a glance at the viewscreen, to see just what is happening. Not a very skulky Eeee … perhaps he's a Mage or an Apprentice.

Father, however, looks a bit more concerned. "Halt the procedure at once. There has been a malfunction." The plant is indeed knotting itself around the mage. Other plants, however, are moving as well … and some of them are bursting apart, tearing themselves asunder in violent growth.

It would appear that some potent magic indeed has been unleashed upon the garden. Alas, while Envoy may have been the instrument for such things, she does not collectively seem to be in control at the moment.

Dragon blinks, and stops the spell. "It shouldn't be that powerful at Caroban's altitude. But still … you have to admit it was fun, Father."


GMed by Greywolf & Rowan

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Today is 6 days before Midsummer's Day, Year 28 of the Reign of Archelaus the First (6127)