DIVA/WISP: Pureheart and the Shadow Queen #1

deucexm deucexm at gmail.com
Fri Nov 9 22:17:41 PST 2018

A direct sequel to Time Enough for Tea, introducing one of the most delightful
characters in my pocket to write for - and much, much more, though the extra
things aren't always immediately recognizable without prior knowledge.  Alas.

But here we go anyway!


Pureheart and the Shadow Queen: A DiVerse Alpha Chronicle 
by Felix 



The Void - 'space' to some, though that's an inexact term - is for the most part
emptiness, bare of everything but the most miniscule stray objects.  For some,
this makes it impossible to survive; but for others, powered by magic or
artifice or simply evolution, the Void is no greater a barrier than any other

Celia Pureheart stood on the small platform outside the airlock and gazed at the
planet spread out beneath her.  The Void was no threat to her; not to Laurel,
either, who stood at her side with as cheerful a smile as ever.

"It's beautiful, isn't it?" Laurel murmured delicately.  There was no air to
carry their words, but Pureheart heard them all the same.  She didn't ask how;
it wasn't important, at least not yet.

"It is," Pureheart agreed after a moment, still looking at the broad expanse of
water and land wrapped in wispy, curling clouds.  "I hope-"  The words caught in
her throat for a moment, and the view blurred.  "I hope I'm doing the right

Laurel reached over and took the glowing red-gloved hand in their own, giving it
a reassuring squeeze.  "I'm sure of it.  So sure that I'll be with you the
entire way, if you need me."

Blinking a few times, Pureheart swallowed and nodded.  "Thanks."

"You're welcome," they returned brightly.  "And don't worry!  Look, here come my
friends - soon to be /our/ friends, I hope."  The white-gloved hand that wasn't
still holding hers raised, and pointed into the inky blackness above the planet,
and Pureheart followed its imaginary line with her gaze-

-and her eyes widened as she beheld a majestic sight: a sleek and compact
cruiser, arrayed in black with gleaming reddish-gold trim - and approaching at
high speed.  It was a design she'd never seen before; nothing Viverdean, and
certainly nothing Imperial with those smooth lines.

Although it was headed almost straight at the station, Pureheart could see it
turning as it approached, presenting its starboard side and smoothly coasting to
a stop within less than a hundred meters, its mysterious shape now blocking the
planet entirely from view.  After a moment, she could see the nearest airlock
open, warm golden light illuminating it from within, and the universal 'come
aboard' symbol appeared on all four sides in bright blue.

"Shall we?" Laurel asked, giving her hand another gentle squeeze.

Pureheart nodded.  "Let's go."

And Laurel's cloak unfolded into brilliant white wings, and Pureheart's boots
and gloves extruded stylish little rocket motors that blazed crimson, and the
two of them leaped into the Void and dove toward the waiting, welcoming golden

It felt strange, and nerve-wracking, but also so very /right/ to be doing this,
and so when Pureheart touched down in the airlock a minute later, she did so
with a smile that matched her guide's.  As the airlock closed and a more normal
environment began to flood the small chamber, she wrapped her satellites close,
merging them into a stylish cape; then she collapsed her staff until only the
jewel was left, and pressed it onto the back of her right hand where it fused
with the glove, ready to be recalled at a moment's notice.

"You're very quick with adjustments," Laurel complimented, their wings folding
seamlessly back into a cloak.

"I don't like taking up too much space," she returned with a little shrug and a
wry smile.  "This is neither my ship nor my home; though come to think of it, I
can't say I have any place to call home at all, now that I've moved on."

As she finished speaking, the inner airlock opened with a delicate hiss, and
before them stood a tall, roughly humanoid shape - a silvery artificial body,
androgynous, with a single burning golden orb in the center of its 'face'.

   To all here present, greetings!  Thou art well?
   Thy journey hath not taxed thee overmuch?
   If this be so, 'twould be most welcome news.

Pureheart just sort of stared in amazement; but Laurel smiled brightly, as they
were wont to do, and bowed gracefully.

   We're well enough, old friend.  I've passed the days
   In travel, song, and art, as oft I do;
   And more, I've brought with me a brand-new heart
   In need, I think, of comrades brave and strong.

They turned to Pureheart with that same smile.  "Celia, this is Myriad, the
intelligence analyst and systems operator of the Thunder Launcher, our host
ship.  Like most of the crew, they have their quirks, but their benevolence is
beyond question."

   Methinks these Laurels shine beyond what I -
   a servant of a greater cause - deserve.
   But ever hath thy golden-hearted words
   Uplifted spirits; mine, and all the crew's.

Pureheart couldn't help but smile at the situation, so far removed from what she
was used to.  It was so nice to see Laurel interact with someone else, and see
them being... just what she had imagined them to be, more or less.  "I'm sorry,
er... Myriad," she began, "I'm not particularly good with freeverse.  But it's a
pleasure to meet you all the same; Pureheart is my name, I suppose."

Myriad shook their head, and laughed softly, the sound as genderless as their

   I pray thee, think not too much 'pon the verse;
   'tis but an affectation of mine own.
   Just Laurel, and my Captain dear, speak thus,
   But of their urging, not at my behest.

   And is the Captain ready for us both?
   I think we've clogged the airlock long enough!

   (laughing) Just so!  We'll go, and clog the bridge instead.

And with a beckoning and a light sashay to their hips, Myriad turned and led the
way, Laurel and Pureheart following.

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