I thought I should find a great photo to post this morning, since my travel/life news boils down to “sitting in a driveway, concentrating on my computer.” But my photography also boils down to “sitting in a driveway, concentrating on my computer.” So have a Cici snippet instead.

Romeo tugged on the back of Cici’s all-weather coat. “Lady coming this way,” she whispered in a carrying voice. “Looking for ya, I think.” 

Cici turned in the direction Romeo indicated. 

The woman wasn’t wearing the obvious uniform of the officials at the desks, but her dark jacket, dark pants and dark soft-soled shoes looked like a uniform nonetheless. People shifted out of her way automatically, without hesitating, as she strode across the terminal. Not quite like she was invisible, but more as if she carried a repelling charm, sensed but not seen. Or maybe that was just because her stern expression and energetic demeanor were vaguely threatening. 

Cici repressed a sigh. 

The woman reached them and bent her head and upper body in a brief half-bow. It was not the full bow of respect she would have given to the ambassador or the brisk nod she probably would have given the average stranger, but a gesture perfectly tuned to convey, “I don’t know who you are, but I’m not taking any chances.” 

Or that’s what Cici thought anyway. Maybe the woman thought she was saying something more like, “Welcome to Valtona.” Tough to say, really. 

“Welcome to Valtona,” the woman said. Her voice was firm but held a hint of breathiness under the surface. She cleared her throat and when she spoke again, the breathiness was gone. “I understand you seek communication protocols for the Renuvian Embassy. A vehicle has been summoned and awaits you at the nearest entrance. May I escort you?” 

Cici glanced at the overhead display. The numbers were flickering past too fast to see, but as she watched, they slowed and stopped. 12421. The numerals blinked furiously. 

She let her gaze roam over the terminal. The calm misery of hundreds of people waiting endlessly for their numbers to be called had turned into complete chaos, a confused jumble of beings all moving at once. People jostled for places in line, rushing toward the exits, laden with their boxes and bags. The kargoi slithered by, its tentacles no longer serene yellow, but a dramatic joyful purple. 

Cici hesitated. Technically, she should wait until all of the beings who were ahead of her in line were finished. But even with every desk open and the officials stamping documents with barely a glance, it would take some time for the crowds to clear out. 

“Is that a problem?” All breathiness was gone. The woman narrowed her eyes at Cici. “The embassy has been notified of your arrival. The vehicle belongs to them.” 

Cici’s lips twitched. Well. Good for the Valtonans. Not totally cowed, then. Or at least, careful. Impersonating a Renuvian would be ridiculously dangerous, but not everyone might know that. 

“It will be my pleasure to visit the embassy.” Cici slipped her free hand into the inner top pocket of her all-weather coat. She carried two sets of documents, of course, and ordinarily, she would pass through planetary customs with the set that would arouse no questions. But given that she’d already mentioned Renuvia, she’d use her real identification. 

By touch, she separated her Renuvian passport from her human passport, and pulled it out. She extended it toward the Valtonan woman. 

The woman fell back a few steps, but recovered quickly. “Unnecessary,” she said, breathiness back in full force, as she waved away Cici’s passport. 

“Oooh!” Romeo’s whisper was filled with delight. “Pretty.” 

Cici bit back the smile, tucking her passport away again. Renuvian passports were suitable for dragons, but humans did tend to find the fact that they were written in fire and burned at a temperature well past that which would sear human flesh to the bone rather off-putting. 

Understandable, Cici supposed. 

But it left her with a dilemma. Should she tell this woman her name? 


Unedited and a first draft, of course. The writing is not actually going very well. I’m way behind on my NaNo goals and feeling forced to acknowledge that books require plots, and plots require thinking time. My plan of just throwing in all sorts of things that entertain me still requires transitions and character development and the creation of tension. In absolutely poor NaNo behavior, I’ve deleted words and edited chapters — bad me, bad, bad, bad. It’s not possible to write 50K words in a month if you delete some of them. Part of my mistake might have been that the revision of APM is hovering over me — I’m not feeling finished with Fen and so even though I love Cici, I’m having a tough time getting the words to flow. I’m not quite ready to throw in the towel on NaNo… but I’m probably getting close. Fortunately, even if I give up on NaNo, I’m going to keep writing Cici. Although I did start Fen 3 while I was falling asleep last night, so I should probably write those ideas down this morning, too. So many stories, so much gnashing of teeth as I try to turn them into shareable form!