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Everything changed. Brenzel felt more confident and settled as she materialized in her cabin. Wichapi is definitely going to have to work on the translation thing, though, she thought, steadying herself on the wall.

She’d had other best friends, but only as a young child. This was different, expansive, beyond mutual agreement, shared interest, it was…oneness. Standing in her cabin, the world coming more into focus, she wondered, what next? There was the mission ahead, that plainly needed to be done, but after that? The world as she knew it had just gotten a bit more complicated.

And what about Wichapi? She had wings now! Was she a full seraph like Dove or Alethea? She knew she wanted to see her again, and soon; just being around Wichapi made her feel better. Why does everyone fear her? So, she can control animals, that’s a good thing! She helped us with the dragon at port, didn’t she? There was definitely a supernatural link between them, now more than ever. Wichapi had even shown her the same cut on her leg that Brenzel had received, obviously from 3’s spear. That was…strange.

Brenzel lay back in her bunk, tired, more emotionally exhausted than physically drained. Her heart still pounded with the feeling of their reunion, the comfort of her friend’s embrace, the sincerity of Wichapi’s tears of repentance turned to joy as they made up. This thing between them, it was…pure. After being used and abused by so many in her past life, this felt like some form of redemption.

Of course, there was Joshua, but…who was she fooling? He was just out of her league. Everyone respected him, even Dove. He was nice to her, sure, probably out of pity or kindness. People were nice to puppies too, just because they were cute. Compared to him, she sighed… feeling foolish for hoping in the recesses of her doubtful heart there could ever be more.

She’d just have to find the time

Brenzel had been afraid she’d be missed, and so she had promised Wichapi that they’d meet again soon. She’d just have to find a time to do it. Perhaps when she was supposed to be asleep. That would work.

It was so hard to let go, their hands lingering together, fingers slowly unlocking. If she had had her way, they’d never be apart, ever again.

Putting her hands behind her head, Brenzel stared up at the ceiling. She realized that being with Wichapi separated her from her friends. It seemed like a trade, the cost of being with her was that she couldn’t be open about it with anyone, especially 3…or Traveler. With a start, she realized what she’d just thought, then amended, Joshua.

She might be able to broach the subject of Wichapi with Hatty, if done in the right way. Her Egyptian friend might understand, or if not, at least keep her secret. Brenzel thought, Funny how being true to one friend would strain the relationship of another. Hatty deserved her trust, she’d always been intensely loyal, but the thought of people trying to prevent her and Wichapi’s friendship, that bred caution, even distrust. Why couldn’t everyone just get along?

Eyelids growing heavy, her mind tired of gymnastics. Beginning to fall asleep, she relived the feeling of Wichapi’s warm embrace in her heart. I’ll never leave you again…Wichapi, I promise….


Brenzel awoke to yelling above her room, the sound of feet running on the deck. Hurriedly, she dressed, putting her hair in a bun. She climbed the stairs and, looking at the relative position of the twin suns, figured it was somewhere past noon. Trying to guess what all the commotion was about, she looked over to the side of the ship where most were gathered, some pointing up. Lifting her gaze toward that direction, high above, a fleeting darkness moved over the airship, as a great dragon silhouette blocked out the suns for a moment.

3, javelin ready, watched the beast intently.

“How long has it been here?” Brenzel asked coming up alongside Meandre.

“Derek spotted it about a half hour ago, it’s been circling us since then,” Meandre said. She looked worried and frustrated. “Dragons never follow patterns, but this one does, it just goes around and around, like it’s watching us…that’s just…odd.”

Brenzel stared up at the beast, probably a half mile away, just lazily flapping in the air, making a great arc around their ship. Brenzel said in her heart, Don’t come so close my friend, it’s not safe for us.


The group of people broke up, going back to their duties, leaving 3, Tane, and Derek to keep track and discuss the threat.

Brenzel walked up as they talked, overhearing them, and paused some distance away to listen.

“I’s don’t thinks its going to attack,” Derek observed, “it’s just keepin’ up with us right now.”

Tane nodded. “That looks about the size of it. I’ve never seen a dragon do that before, they always attack straight away, ferociously, anything within a hundred miles. This one is really acting strange.” Turning to 3, who was keeping his eyes on the flying beast, he said, “If it comes to it, do you think you can take it out?”

3 nodded, then took his eyes from the sky to Tane, “I don’t think, for now, this one’s going to be a problem, though. Perhaps the Tech Wizard has perfected a way to control them or keep them sane enough to take orders. Although, it could be The Null that is keeping it away, maybe it feels it, too.” Shaking his head, the archangel concluded with, “Something’s different though, and it’s not the first one like this, either.” Putting his hand on Derek’s shoulder, he said, “For now, just keep watch. Let’s hope we clear The Null first before there’s any problem.”

“I wills,” the big scout said, nodding.

Turning, 3 noticed Brenzel standing there. “Afternoon, Brenzel,” he said, “did you get some rest?”

Having trouble holding his direct gaze, Brenzel answered, “Yes…. I feel better after some sleep, thanks for asking.” Did he know something? she wondered.

Turning back to Tane, 3 said, “Let’s get things ready to pull the ship.”

Brenzel stood aside as Tane and 3 walked past, **** 3 looks at her? moving toward the front of the vessel. Brenzel knew what Wichapi was doing, but having the dragon shadow the ship wasn’t helping at all.


Everyone on the ship seemed grumpy. Everyone except 3, that is. Even Fallon was busy pounding out bread dough on the galley table, hitting and slapping it roughly as she kneaded it. Tossing a bit more flour on it, she didn’t even say hello to Brenzel as she stood in the doorway, looking at the abused bread to be.

“Hi Fallon.”

Fallon didn’t even look up. Meha sat in the corner, looking glum.

“I like the bread you make,” Brenzel offered, trying to break the uncomfortable silence.

Rounding it, putting it in a wooden bowl and covering it with a towel, Fallon said, “Practically the only thing I’m good for around here.” She wiped the flour off her white arms, then sat down next to Meha.

Funny, after seeing Wichapi, Brenzel didn’t feel down anymore, but everyone else certainly did. “I think we’ll be out of the bad area soon, and everyone will feel a lot better,” Brenzel said with a smile, hoping to cheer the women up a bit.

Fallon let out a short burst of air from between her pouting lips, blowing a strand of hair out of her face, “If you say so.”

Brenzel stood for a moment, then turned and left the galley.

Climbing back on deck she sat, looking at the sky. As she watched the suns move across the sky, she tried to figure out how she’d see Wichapi again. The dragon thing was not helping at all. Her Lakota friend would have to be more discreet in the future if this was going to work out without alerting everyone. Leaning forward, putting her head in her hands, she thought, I just want to be with her, that’s all there is to it. People are just going to have to accept my choice. She felt resolve, a sense that she knew what she wanted, even if it didn’t fit what everyone else wanted. This has to be a two way street.

Moving faster

A sudden forward thrust almost knocked her off the box on which she sat. Regaining her balance, Brenzel stood, looking up at the sails which were down and stowed away, wondering why it felt like they were moving faster. Oh, she thought, must be 3.

Brenzel hurried up to the top deck, where Tane stood at the ship’s wheel. He smiled as she stepped near, Meadre at his side. “Hey, Brenzel,” he asked, “do you know why a boat always gets great deals in the market?”

“Um…no.” She caught Meandre smile and roll her eyes.

Grinning, he said, “Because it loves a sale!”

Brenzel’s expression didn’t change as she looked at him, and Tane added, “Get it? Sale? Sail?”

Meandre frowned and mocked offense.

“Uh huh,” Brenzel said, breaking into a small grin, shaking her head slightly. “Only you could be positive with a dragon flapping overhead and The Null below us.”

Meandre nodded, looking up at her captain with admiring eyes.

“What a brute!” Tane exclaimed, “You know, 3 snapped the first rope we tried, like a thread? We had to use the ship’s anchor chain! My God, I didn’t know they were that strong.”

Brenzel looked out beyond the boat’s prow, seeing two great wings beating powerfully, a long dark length of chain taut behind him. She thought how strange it was that everyone around her thought interacting with an archangel was normal. Such a strange life I am living. . .

“How long before we are clear of The Null, do you think?” Brenzel asked, hoping for everyone’s sake it would be soon.

“At this speed, if he doesn’t tire,” Tane tapped the anemometer on the panel, “by sunset or even before.”

Good, Brenzel thought, sighing in relief, at least one of my problems will be over soon.