Danny’s Story

29. in which danny’s wood elf nature causes a pause


Danny stepped back to regard the whole of her surroundings. She recognized the synthetic gleam of the other trees now. Wires, like thin vines, draped between the treetops. Sparks of light ran up and down them like currents of electricity.

When she stilled herself to listen, she could hear the background hum of machinery — of smoothly running computers en masse. As Danny walked slowly through this cold forest of dead calm and electric aliveness, her skin crawled. It had an overwhelming, aloof presence, like the weight of a hundred gazes upon her. Her gaze flashed this way and that, as if to catch a glance of prying eyes. There was nothing. Only the still, still trees.

The wood elf in Danny — the part of her that was Tzeme, adopted daughter of the Forest That Knows, student of written lore, lover of Drev’o — felt at home in the trees, but also completely ill at ease. These trees were alien, and felt wrong. Sudden homesickness for Saliy’a stirred in her, along with a sick dread.

She rechecked her position on the satellite map. Her wild sprint had brought her closer to the heart of the city-forest, and she was still traveling in that direction. She was not sure yet how she planned to confront the forest. Yes, she had its name. It was a powerful weapon, but how should she wield it? The heart of the forest called her. She felt that answers awaited her there.

Perhaps it was the kinship she felt with all forests that led Danny to seek the heart of the forest. A deep knowing, an intimate familiarity, the kind of understanding that allowed a woman to read her partner’s thoughts through the set of his jaw or the subtle change in his posture. Or, perhaps it was the tactician in Danny — the cold, efficient hunter: seek the heart of a thing to slay it.

Tzeme was appalled by the thought of killing a forest — even this strange, alien forest. That part of Danny recoiled, stung. Her walk slowed. She blinked, as if suddenly wondering where she was and what she was doing.

Tersely, Danny shook her head, as if to shake her wood elf personality away. She began to jog. It was as if this action restored her sense of purpose. She was not on a stroll through the Forest with Drev’o on her arm. She was on a mission — and she was running out of time.

With the Smart Suit, the jog was effortless. Her muscles did not fatigue; her breathing did not labor. She soared over the forest floor, bounding easily through the trees. Like an arrow toward its target.

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Christie “Iamba” Bailey