Dragon Sword
Thickskin from my pocket — I’m running low, I
have to be careful — and smear it over the signed letters. I can’t
let any part of the cap come into contact with my skin — not until
I’m ready to go.
    D.B.
    Danger Boy.
    “ DiMaggio! Joe
DiMaggio!”
    Someone’s shouting, and I turn.
It’s Sign Man, who’s being held by the cop DiMaggio had just talked
to. Apparently he just realized Joe was here and is trying to
follow him.
    “ Look, back off,
mister.”
    But Sign Man ignores the cop and
continues to yell after DiMaggio, even though he’s disappeared from
view. “Time is short! We’re in bigger trouble than we know! Wake
up!”
    “ Knock it off, buddy. I mean
it.”
    “ See for yourself!” He holds out
one of the flyers, but the cop won’t take it.
    And then I recognize him: The
bristly haircut on top of two intense eyes behind a pair of
wire-rim glasses.
    Andrew Jackson Williams. Who I met
— meet — one night in Vinita, Oklahoma, when my dad and I were —
are — driving cross-country.
    To this day, I don’t know what year
that night took place in.
     
     
     

Chapter Ten
     
    Thea: Flight and Fire
    2019 C.E.
     
    “ Thea! A good time to meet!” K’lion
was so excited after I crashed into his prison that he gave me what
I believe to be the Saurian equivalent of a kiss — a tongue dragged
up the nose toward the eyes. It leaves you a bit damp.
    I told him I’d been sent to rescue
him. “And you did!” he replied. “Passing grade! Skt! But how
did you find me?”
    “ The ship ... the vessel found you, K’lion. This is a prototype, a test model.”
    “ Oh, very dangerous. Snk! Could be a sneak test. Or might just not work.”
    “ I volunteered to pilot it. I
wanted to return to Earth, to this time, to find you and
Eli.”
    “ Was this your science
project?”
    “ It is science, but even its
inventors, such as Gennt, aren’t sure whose anymore: They’ve made
the ship mostly plasmechanical now, like the lingo-spots. It feels . It reacts . It belongs, more and more, to itself . When I was in the Fifth Dimension, the vessel began
anticipating my piloting moves, as if it were coming to…to understand me. At one point, space was stretched out so far
around me and I seemed to be moving so slowly, that I fell asleep
briefly. When I awoke, the ship was humming .”
    “ Humming?”
    “ Making music.”
    “ A rousing Cacklaw grind
march?”
    “ No, a lullaby my mother used to
sing to me. I’d been dreaming of it. But how did the ship
know?”
    “ Not sure either,” he replied.
“Stranded here myself bt! bt! being an outlaw and a troodon.
I’m badly behind with science and engineering journals. How does
the new kp! kp! compass work?”
    “ It’s no longer based only on known
coordinates. After what happened to you, they realized that
sticking only to the known was too limiting. It allowed them no
room for surprises.”
    “ They’re courting surprise? Kww! What an eruption! Normally, our teachers wish to save
us from true surprises until the upper-grade curriculum. And even
then snkt! it’s all kept within limits.”
    “ Well,” I told K’lion, “when you
get back home, you may find that I have disrupted several syllabi
and course descriptions. As for the compass…Gennt showed me how it
works. Though I wonder if he was completely sure himself. You begin
by agitating the plasma, get it to focus on the object or location
being sought.”
    “ But how?”
    “ Atomic structure, I believe,
K’lion. The ship knew to seek you out. You put in…tissue
from the person or place you seek.”
    “ The vibrations!”
    “ What?”
    “ Vibrations!” K’lion repeated.
“ Pwwt! ” He was excited. “Gennt always had a theory about
vibrations humming through the universe — that each being, each
planet had a different… t-t-tnh! hum . So if you had a
sample of someone’s atomic structure, you would have a sample of
their personal…music.”
    “ The ship finds people by listening
to

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