“Aristotle taught that stars are made of a different matter than the four earthly elements—a quintessence—that also happens to be what the human psyche is made of. Which is why man’s spirit corresponds to the stars. … I do like the idea that there’s a little starlight in each of us.” —Lisa Kleypas
“I think that’s your cue,” Paragon said in her ear.
Siren’s eyes flew skyward and she gawked for just a brief second. Then she looked at her team — not the Vanguard but her musical team — and ordered simply, “Go. Go now.”
And as the sound swelled around her and the numerous people nearby realized ‘This Is It’ and joined in, she tuned out all else. She didn’t give voice to the music, she became the incredible crescendo of sound, her voice simply an extension of her reality.
Time became meaningless. There was nothing in her universe at that moment but the music. Her emotions twined through the sound, rendering it not merely music but almost a living, breathing entity of its very own. A welcome, a gratitude for the arrival of help, and a rebelliousness of spirit all twined into one truly amazing soundtrack of the human race’s intent to keep their world, of their request for help in doing just that.
As the first salvo died away into silence and the world held its breath awaiting a response, Siren’s brain came back to reality for a moment. Long enough to realize that her teammates had to be nearby. She queried into the comms, “Quotient?”
“We’re fine. Talk later.” The response was heard through the haze of a massive adrenaline high, barely acknowledged though she comprehended it. It gave her free license to turn back to what was happening before her, because now they were speaking. As if they hadn’t heard all that had been offered up to them. Their communication was little better than a form letter, and Siren could see the disappointment around her even as her own heart lurched in resistance to the message.
And then the monolith opened and Paradox boxes began pouring from the structures in untold numbers. At first she couldn’t comprehend what was happening. In a split second, though, the light bulb went on. They were singing — they were… offering their own support. She could feel in the music that they offered their ‘parent’ ship that the boxes were throwing their support to this nascent rebellion.
Without looking, she pointed imperiously at Grady, and the sound swelled again. This time as it built around her singers, Deirdre didn’t use the melody line that had been written for her. Before the past few months she would not have said improvisation was her strong suit, but the faith of those she loves and the confidence bestowed by the very power she now weilds changed all of that. Ad-libbing the melody line, shifting it on the fly, Siren began to sing once more. Integrating the song that the boxes sang into the score written by Grady Mason, the tiny redhead’s voice lofted into the air as its own primary melody line. Again, the gratitude for their arrival, but a more firm emotional foray into defiance, refusal to surrender.
If she were going to be the Voice of the human race, then by God they would understand what it meant to be human. To fight to the last breath.
She could feel when the Paradox boxes reacted to her volley, adapting their own song subtly so that it was all one seriously impressive whole. And for the time that she sang, Siren was again lost in her own world where there was nothing but the music and what she infused, heart and soul, into it.
The silence once it was done nearly deafened her. It wasn’t that it was truly silent, for there was noise everywhere. It was that nothing around her seemed real. Deirdre was riding an adrenaline high the likes of which she had never experienced. Faces flashed in front of her, some celebrating, some curious. Someone was talking to her and she had a moment of clarity where she recognized Liz’s face, saw half her musical team with tears in their eyes and the other half simply struggling to not split their faces with grins.
She felt drugged. The world had a surreal quality and she couldn’t quite seem to come down, riding a razor’s edge of euphoria. Deirdre’s eyes finally focused on Grady’s, the architect of this incredible venture and the composer of what would be the most famous piece of music in history, and she threw herself into his arms. He was the one person close enough physically and emotionally to be safe.
As the crowd surged, the tiny remaining coherent voice in the back of her head told her to look past Grady. Ken’s face came into focus. He’d been somewhere in the crowd near where her team was, she knew that much, and it was just as natural as breathing to continue the celebration by allowing herself to be passed to him as the next person in line. In the crush no one would notice that she held him too long or too tightly.
No one would notice when she kissed him heatedly — everyone around them was kissing and hugging and laughing and crying.
No one would hear that she whispered in his ear, Marry me. Right now. Tonight.
Blue eyes sought and found hers, elation at the success of the endeavor giving way to a simple nod and a radiant grin. If Ken doubted what would come, it didn’t show in that moment. The chaotic celebration around them offered ample opportunity to escape, to become invisible. They would be back before anyone even noticed they were gone.
And with the jet at her disposal and no one paying enough attention to question her use of it, Las Vegas was a mere hour away.