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Cal stared at the eager-faced young noble-lady, a frown creasing on her forehead as she tried to make sense of the request.

“What in Paradise is an ‘autograph’?” She asked, stumped. The young lady held the quill and paper out, her eyes shining.

“Sign,” she pleaded, “please?”

Cal took the quill and paper, stared at it, then stared over the woman’s shoulder at the amassing crowd. Most were staring right back at her like she was a tourist attraction; some were nudging each other and whispering. She squiggled an unidentifiable shape on the paper and handed it back to the young lady, who squealed with delight and retreated back into the crowd. Once she’d taken her leave, the crowd pressed in a little as though keen to fill her space. Cal threw her hands up.

“Mates!” She backed up against the wall of the barracks. “Look, I really just want to – ”

A familiar voice hailed the crowd of (largely) guards, ordering them to disperse. Cal exhaled, a warm sense of safety and relief flooding through her. She stepped a little away from the wall, wavering slightly on her feet where her new lack of tail threw her balance off. The crowd drew back with some haste and scattered, revealing Flynn in full uniform. He didn’t smile as he usually would; wouldn’t get too close or meet her eye.

“Nooo, Flynn,” Cal ran her fingers over her scalp, “it’s Lorraine.” Pause. “Ahh, Rhaegar damn.”

How was she supposed to identify herself if she couldn’t even say her own name?

“I’m the fairy who came from Earth.” She frowned as her mouth autocorrected ker and Xara. “I mean, a fairy – argh. My familiar is a dove. A dove. Called nameless.”

What in Paradise was going on? Was this some kind of godly prank? Cal bit her lower lip, holding back the sense of desperation rising in her chest. Buddy hadn’t recognised her and now she couldn’t even self-identify to Flynn. What if she was stuck this way? Stuck making autographs and being stared at forever? She closed the gap between them with a couple of cautious steps and took Flynn by the shoulders, gripping a little harder than she normally would have. Not that it mattered. She didn’t have her claws either.

Seriously. No tail and no claws. How did Lorraine even climb?

“Flynn, please see me.” She begged. “Volcano. Lightning. Tails. Spitter. Tech. Communicator. The bit – ” she released him and held her hands together to make a mountain shape “ – at the top of a volcano where it depresses.”

CALDERA



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