Excerpt: (As yet un-named) Sequel

With The Sunshine Line almost ready to be published and Help Wanted at a brief stall (just for a few days) I decided to start working on the (as yet un-named) sequel to The Sunshine Line. There are still plenty of rough edges, as I am hip-deep in the editing process at the moment.  That said, I bring you this excerpt. 

Soon, the two guards that had been sent away returned with a crowd of others. Dominating the group was one who had an elaborate and fantastical gown that trailed from her arms and legs. It would be virtually impossible to walk in, but pixies only walked for effect. The rest were her own guards and various hangers-on.

Hello Amaleen!” The glamorous pixie said. “And you two must be Kristy and Joe. I’ve heard very much about you both. My name is Dasha and I sort of make the decisions around here.” This made the other pixies giggle a little.

Amaleen said to us, “She’s like a queen or a chief.” Then, turning to Dasha, “It’s lovely to see you too, but unfortunately it’s not a social call.”

Dasha hung her head so that her rose-colored hair fell in front of her face. “Nobody ever comes to visit us,” she said. Then she smiled almost wickedly and winked at Kristy and me. My eyes flickered involuntarily to the hole in the ceiling so far overhead. But Dasha was saying, “What, then, can I do for you?” Then she executed several loops in the air, spinning on her vertical axis as she did, her dress chasing her form around like silken fire. “Sorry, just had some energy to relieve.”

A tolerant smile crossed Amaleen’s features, leading me to believe that for some reason Amaleen like Dasha very much indeed. “I’m here on behalf of the Portal Project,” she said.

Dasha’s tiny face was expressive as she rolled her eyes, “No duh,” she said, “Are we getting to the point today, or am I going to have to feed all of you? That would bankrupt us for a month or two, but, you know, anything for the Portal Project.” I was starting to suspect that Becky’s sarcasm might be partly due to her species, not just her own personality.

Amaleen scowled for an instant, then answered, “the Portal Project has agreed that these humans need a guide for their job. Becky was chosen.”

Dasha burst into peals of musical laughter, and started swooping about again. Her guards increased the volume of space they were covering, but had no other reaction. Her loops slowed in speed with the dying of her laughter and she came to rest before us again. Then she cracked up again, but managed to control it and stay in place.

Finally she composed herself enough to say, with a dignity that was frankly unbelievable after the previous couple of minutes, “Our nest is honored.”

She snapped her tiny fingers and another pixie was at her side instantly. “Would you be so good as to fetch Becky to the Giant’s Entrance for an audience with me?” she said. The aide flew off down the length of the burrow, and was soon lost to sight.

Becky!” Dasha exclaimed, a giggle coming back to her voice. “Oh she is going to hate this.” A thoughtful look crossed her face, and she snapped her fingers twice this time, which resulted in a member of her personal guard zipping to her side. “Why don’t you send a couple of your people to… assist my aide in inviting Becky to join us?” The guard nodded and in a moment, two uniformed pixies were flying at high speed after the first one.

Oh!” said Dasha as a thought occurred to her. She turned to Kristy and I and said, “You must understand that Becky’s objection won’t be personal. She is simply not inclined to take orders. To be orderly. To answer to anyone. This is a pixie thing. It can be a bitch, being the one in charge,” she laughed.

I…” I trailed off, taken aback by the calm way their leader had summed up the pixies, “thank you for the perspective.”

Dasha laughed. More or less at me, rather than with me.

We waited quite a while. It was Amaleen who saw the small returning party first. Once she pointed them out I watched their odd progress. It seemed to move toward us in spurts. It would get slower and slower and then speed up suddenly only to gradually slow down again. As they finally got close I realized what was happening. Becky was trying to go as slowly as possible, but when her speed grew intolerably slow, Dasha’s guards would give her a shove.

Finally Becky approached Dasha and gave a mid-air curtsey, utterly ignoring us giants.

It’s your lucky day, Becky!” Dasha said brightly, enjoying the moment almost indecently.

Yes, ma’am” Becky said in a tiny voice.

You have brought great honor to your nest. You are chosen to be the guide for these humans for the Portal Project.”

What?!” Becky shrieked. “No fucking way. I’m no damn Mary Poppins.” She glared at Amaleen, then turned back to Dasha, “You can tell that cordless vacuum cleaner to go back to the Project and nominate someone else.”

Now, Becky, that’s no way to talk to a Project member. You’ll be leaving with them. Right now.”

Becky started muttering curses, some in English, some in other human languages, some in languages never spoken by human lips. She was vibrating in place; I gathered it was rude to go into ballistic flight patterns when speaking to your sovereign.

Very creative, Becky!” Dasha said appreciatively. She turned and gestured to the Entrance Guard and spoke to them quietly. Then to us she said, “Time to go! If you’ve never been levitated before, don’t panic; it won’t help.”

With that less than encouraging piece of advice, she turned and, her entourage with her, went back the way she had come. 

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