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A Rainbow Hanging Over Your Head

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The Dragonet Experiment

Report 01
Truthseeker

The Dragonet Experiment is one of the top secret Don't Tell Your Friends ones, so I can't tell anybody anything outside of the labs. That's why I like writing reports, because it helps me keep my thoughts more organized.

The first step in the Master Plan is to nab a RainWing egg from their nursery. Shadowcreeper is supposed to do that, and he should be back by tomorrow morning.

This concludes the report

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Report 02
Truthseeker

Shadowcreeper returned with the egg, which has since been dubbed Subject Alpha. It has been predicted (ha ha) to hatch within the next month.

This concludes the report.

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Report 03
Truthseeker

The egg has lost its color and is now a pale, rather sickly gray. This is worrisome, as Shadowcreeper says all the eggs in the RainWing nursery were vibrant shades of every color you could think of. I went to ask permission to see for myself, so I could compare better, but I haven't gotten an answer.

This concludes the report.

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Report 04
Truthseeker

I was allowed to go to the nursery (at NIGHTTT) and there has been found to be a shocking difference between Subject Alpha and the eggs in the rainforest. It's very worrisome, so I'm trying to decide how to solve it.

This concludes the report.

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Report 05
Truthseeker

I have decided to keep the egg in the patch of trees, where there's less smoke. Maybe that will help its TERRIBLY worrisome loss of color. We want the dragonet inside to hatch healthy, after all.

This concludes the report.

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Report 06
Truthseeker

The egg has hatched a week after the predicted date. Unfortunately, the poor thing is scrawny and unhealthy, and his scales are dull. Maybe the scales will become shinier with time, but I don't think they will; I think it's an effect of hatching in a place so unlike the clean, healthy rainforest.

I named the dragonet Leopard, which Soulsearcher says is silly because it's a RAINWING, Truthseeker, and leopards are FIERCE and RainWings are NOT, but I don't care what she says, Leopard is my tiny little hatchling and he WILL grow up to be big and strong.

This concludes the report.

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Report 07
Truthseeker

Leopard is very feisty for such a small and unhealthy dragonet. He didn't want me to draw his blood, even when I told him it's to help him get better, so it was a very difficult ordeal, but I finally got the sample I needed. Of course, it's going to be used in some experiment or another, but the IMPORTANT thing is that it's missing the proper amount of oxygen, and he also needs more sun.

I have an idea for how to maybe fix that, but I have to figure some things out.

This concludes the report.

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Report 08
Truthseeker

I snuck Leopard into the rainforest. I didn't tell anybody, I just pretended I was running errands for the queen and hid the dragonet under my wing. WHICH, by the way, was easier said than done, because he was SQUIRMING the whole time like the FEISTY LITTLE DRAGONET HE IS.

Anyway, when we got through the tunnel, he perked up at the sudden change in atmosphere. He rain around looking at all the pretty colors and plants and animals, and he kept changing his scales to match them. It was very cute, and also rather interesting to see how RainWing dragonets possibly develop their camoflague.

I flew him up to the canopy on my back so he could get a view of the sun, and he very muched loved it. He made lots of intelligent sounds like GMURRGL and BLURPLRD. He rather seemed to like the warmth, as well, which feels much better when it's from the sun than it does when it's from a festering volcano that could blow up and kill you.

I think we'll do it again sometime, because I don't think I'm imagining that he was a lot more relaxed and healthy looking afterward.

This concludes the report.

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Report 09
Truthseeker

I brought Leopard out again. He didn't struggle this time, because now he knows what "Leopard CALM DOWN we're going to the rainforest" means.

He saw his first sloth, which I was going to kill and eat, but then he hugged it and played with it and I just couldn't bring myself to. He ALSO, however, found several different fruits that I didn't even know existed, and he ate them happily and the pulp ran down his chin and he got all sticky and messy and gross, and actually, I tried a few, and they were actually rather tasty. So he jumped on me and pointed up and said "SUNSUNSUNSUN" so then we were both sticky and messy and gross and I flew him up to the sun and was all very lovely.

Then it rained and he was terrified for a moment before I told him it's water that comes when the plants are thirsty. It's very fresh, too, for that matter. So anyway, we flew in the rain until we were NOT sticky or messy or gross, and then we went home.

This concludes the report.

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Report 10
Truthseeker

Shadowcreeper followed me. He found out what we were doing, and I'm in trouble now. If I don't have utterly perfect behavior, They're liable to throw me in a lava pit. I'm not allowed to bring Leopard into the rainforest, which is unfortunate, because he keeps asking me when we're going again. He was very sad the last few times we came home. I suppose that's why Battlewinner is mad that I brought him ever at all.

Leopard turned one year old a few days ago.

This concludes the report.

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Report 11
Truthseeker

Nothing interesting has happened over the last year, unless you can count Leopard losing most of the healthy sheen and relazation and happiness the rainforest gave him. He mopes a lot. Keeps crying about wanting to see the rainforest. Still not allowed to bring him. Probably will never be.

This concludes the report.

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Report 12
Truthseeker

They started the Experiments on Leopard when he turned two. They make him cooperate by telling him he'll get a brother or a sister if he does. I hate it.

Shadowcreeper stole another egg. It's a lot newer than Leopard's was. I think that's a bad idea, because that gives it a lot more time to lose color and be generally unhealthy.

This concludes the report.

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Report 13
Truthseeker

The egg has lost all color again. It seems like a more colorless gray than Leopard's was, if that's possible. It also has several black spots that look a lot like bruises. They weren't there in the beginning, and it's not nearly time to hatch yet. The doctors say the dragonet inside is probably dying, if not dead yet, and I can't say I disagree.

This concludes the report.

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Report 14
Truthseeker

The egg was moved from it's usual place when I came to check on it. I was really worried, because I thought it hatched prematurely and without me. Turns out, Leopard wanted to see his brother/sister. I scolded him. He sulked and looked sad. That made me feel bad, so I snuck out to get him a banana. That made him happier.

This concludes the report.

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Report 15
Truthseeker

The egg has hatched. Despite every fear or doubt that literally every dragon involved had, she hatched healthy. Her scales are relatively healthy, and she's strong and happy. I named her Miracle. She is absolutely perfect. Leopard loves her even more than I do, so that's a win too.

The experiments are to continue.

This concludes the report.

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Report 16
Truthseeker

Miracle is probably the happiest dragon on this entire island. I don't know what it is. She just loves everything and everyone. Most dragons find it annoying, NightWings being NightWings, but I think it's adorable and perfect. She is virtually untouchable as well, because Leopard watches her like a hawk, and he hisses at everyone who comes near her except me. He knows how to use his venom (ha ha take that evil scientist idiots) and he makes sure everybody knows.

This concludes the report.

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Report 17
Truthseeker

Miracle continues to be the most miraculous healthy dragon on the island. The doctors are baffled. Ha ha, take that. They've started experimenting on her too, though, and Leopard sulks and sulks until she's out of those particular labs, then immediately runs to hug her and whisper things to her while she trembles in his talons. I hate it.

They got another egg that's supposedly just days old. It's different. The colors are darker and more subtle than usual, even though it just got here and its health hasn't begun the inevitable decline. Also, it sparkles, which is odd, because I thought only NightWing eggs did that.

This concludes the reprot

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Report 18
Truthseeker

The egg is to hatch soon. It's gotten horribly unhealthy. Very worrisome. Not as unhealthy as Miracle's was, though. It retains its odd dark subtlety and sparkles. Leopard is four years old. Miracle is two.

This concludes the report.

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Report 19
Truthseeker

The dragonet is another female, but she's different. Her scales are darker than either Leopard's or Miracle's, which could be seen as mimicking NightWing scales, but she tried to mimic a banana and she couldn't make her scales light enough. She has odd scales, too, that won't change color at all. They're gray and they don't change. Two of these are teardrop shapes at the corner of each eye. Firefly loves them, but only because she has similar ones.

I named the dragonet Shimmer. Leopard and Miracle absolutely adore her, and now Miracle is on the Protection Squad too. It's kind of funny, actually. They're just SO ADORABLE AND I LOVE THEM.

This concludes the report.

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Report 20
Truthseeker

Leopard has taken to dark blue and red scales. Sometimes it's just one color (usually blue), but more often, it's dark blue shot through with crimson. I've come to the (shaky) conclusion that RainWings take to a certain pattern of colors at around the age of five, and that's what their base color is.

This rule seems to have exceptions for dragons taken out of their home, or dragons who experience trauma. It's still very spotty (the study of RainWing scales) at best, so this rule could be proven wrong at any given time.

Leopard is age five, Miracle is almost three, and Shimmer is six moons.

This concludes the report.

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Report 21
Truthseeker

THEY'RE GONE. LEOPARD AND MIRACLE AND SHIMMER ALL HAVE DISAPPEARED. MY CHILDREN. NO THIS IS BAD. THIS IS VERY VERY VERY BAD. THEY COULD HAVE BEEN KIDNAPPED OR TRIED TO FLY OVER THE OCEAN OR SOMETHING OH NO NO. I'LL BE IN TROUBLE TOO IF ANYONE FINDS OUT

They've been gone for too long, anything could have happened to them oh no.

This concludes the report.

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Report 22
Truthseeker

We now have shaky evidence that they snuck through the tunnel, camoflagued. This is something we apparently overlooked. I've been informed that if I don't find them and bring them back in the next moon, I am to be thrown into a lava pit. Which would likely be rather painful.

This concludes the report.

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Report 23
Truthseeker

I couldn't find them. I am to be brought to the dungeons to wait until they have an opportunity to make my lava drowning public.

This concludes the report.

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Report 24
Truthseeker

They changed their minds. Instead of being burn-drowned alive immediately, I get to hunt down my precious children, murder them with my own talons, and bring back their dead bodies. They won't be persuaded otherwise.

This concludes the report.

Chapter Text

Shimmer was woken, for the third time that week, by a nightmare that wasn't her own.

The nightmare was never exactly the same -- whether only small details were changed or very large and major ones -- but the setting was always the same: a huge, black mountain, oozing liquid fire in the middle of the ocean under a black cloud of smoke and ash.

In this one, Shimmer's older brother, Leopard, was being tested on by some sort of scientists. They were the big, black dragons Shimmer only ever saw in other dragons' minds -- NightWings -- and they had needles and bowls and all sorts of weird tools. The wore strange masks with tiny holes poked in them for eyes.

They poked Leopard and prodded him and told him that if he didn't cooperate, they would do terrible things to Miracle, Shimmer's older sister who was younger than Leopard.

In this dream, Miracle was pinned up on the wall with chains and clasps and clamps. She looked terrified, shaking, her scales a pale green color that meant fear. She let out a pitiful whine.

Suddenly, the world was tipped sideways and Shimmer was thrown back into her own body, disorientated and terrified. After a moment or two, she realized where she was and made herself lie still, her heartbeat thumping wildly in her chest. She shifted her scales into a deliberate, murky gray, so Leopard, who had also woken up, wouldn't notice she was awake.

The RainWing in question had turned a vivid lily green, like the one Miracle had been in the dream. He'd scrambled to his talons, breathing rapidly and whipping his head around. His eyes were wide and panicky in the darkness of their cave, searching.... searching....

His eyes fell on Miracle, who was sprawled peacefully on her ledge. Her scales were painted with pleasant colors like pink and blue and yellow that made Shimmer think of fruit. She rolled to one side, flopping her wing over and burrowing into the moss and leaves that lined the stone.

"Hmmm, yes I think I'll have another banana... and a... ummmmm turtle yeah."

Leopard let out a relieved snort, his scales shifting to yellow and blue. Shimmer watched, her heartbeat now settled back into a steady rhythm, as he curled back into his own nest of moss and other such plants.

Shimmer exhaled quietly and tucked her head into her wing. She imagined grabbing Leopard's nightmare and stuffing it into a pot to place on the small shelf with all her random things she'd collected -- a sand dollar, a bowl of smooth pebbles, a pair of sticks that curved around one another like a braided rope.

She didn't hear another nightmare that night.


The next morning, Shimmer was woken by the sounds of dragons waking and beginning their days.

Shimmer and her siblings lived in a base of the Talons of Peace that consisted of several dozen caves in a cliff overlooking the western ocean, so she could hear the SeaWings rousing in the next cave over, and the lone SandWing loudly arguing with his cavemate in the one above about whether or not a large barrel of raw fish was a suitable breakfast.

Shimmer herself breathed in the comforting, familiar scent of the ocean breeze and slid of her ledge. She stretched her whole body, flaring her wings and arching her back to get all the cricks out. She blinked several times until there was no trace of sleep left in her body. Except then she yawned, and THEN there was no trace of sleep in her body.

"What do we have for breakfast?" She asked Miracle, who was her usual color of soft, ocean blue and curled up with a scroll on her ledge.

"A couple papayas from that last time I went to the rainforest, some coconuts, aaaaaaand" -- she lifted her head to squint at the shelf in the stone wall that held their food -- "um, a cow, apparently. Someone better eat that quick, or our cave will smell like dead things and we'll have to move again."

"I was waiting for Shimmer to wake up," Leopard informed her snippily, swooping into the cave dramatically. He was also colored his favored shade of gold, with brown spots SPECIFICALLY and VERY CAREFULLY designed to look like a leopard, except he never told anyone that because if they weren't enlightened enough to see it, then they didn't Deserve to Know.

Everytime Shimmer thought about this, she had to stifle her laughter, which made people look at her funny.

Shimmer preferred a more subtle rose, like the sunset, but darker because her scales liked dark things. Some might see that fact as a defect, but it also came with a handy skill that could be used for:

"Could you fry it for me?" Leopard addressed Shimmer this time. "Meat is better fried."

Miracle muttered in her corner something about how all meat is gross always and frankly quite horrifying to eat, especially when you've killed the creature yourself.

Shimmer breathed fire at the cow, which became a tender state of Fried To A Near Crisp. This was not a common trick in RainWings, but neither were her Night Mode scales.

Leopard ate a sizeable chunk of meat of the cow before offering it to Shimmer, who devoured the rest of it. Miracle scowled and buried her snout deeper into the scroll. Her scales were kept carefully in check, so the usual irritated orange didn't appear.

"I got that mission," Leopard announced. "Miracle do you wanna come with?" Leopard, being the oldest, was in charge of mostly everything in their little family-ish group, and also the one who handled the missions given to them by the head Talons. The only reason Leopard ever did them was because they came with rewards -- essential things like fruit and animals and mirrors and strings of beads that Shimmer liked to hang around the cave. You know, essential things.

Miracle lowered her scroll with interest. "Which one? What's the compensation?"

Miracle liked using Big Words like that. Compensation.

"The week-long one. We have to fly to the Kingdom of Sand and get this cactus that grows there, and they'll give us" -- he sat back and started ticking off his claws -- "five little pots, one big pot, more of those beads Shimmer likes, a necklace, and an entire whale. Cleaned and salted, so it won't go bad as fast."

Miracle rolled up her scroll after marking her spot with a stray bit of moss. "Okay. The desert is great. Awesome sun. Shimmer that's the first place you need to go, it feels amazing."

She was always telling Shimmer things like this. She just HAD to see how BIG and GREEN the rainforest was. She NEEDED to see a camel, they look so DUMB. Shimmer, just wait until you turn seven and you can see ALL OF PYRRHIA.

It was rather exciting, considering she would turn seven in the next moon.

BUT, that wasn't now, which was when Leopard and Miracle were apparently leaving on a quest-slash-mission thing.

Shimmer groaned loudly. "You guys were just gone, like a week ago. It's boring here all by myself, nothing interesting ever happens."

"You're not all by yourself, basically the entire Talons of Peace is here," Miracle pointed out. "Plus, we'll get you a jar of the sand while we're there."

"And a jerboa," Leopard jumped in. "Those things are great."

"Fiiiiiiine." Shimmer whined. This was (almost) purely dramatics. She actually had lots of things she could do in a week. She just wanted to get them to bring her cool stuff. Plus, she was kind of disappointed that they had to leave again.

"Great, because we have to leave right now." Leopard turned to Miracle. "Get together anything you gotta bring."

Miracle rolled up her scroll and grabbed a small satchel reserved for this specific purpose. "Done."

"Then lets go." He turned to the front of the cave that opened onto a seaside cliff. "Bye, Shimmer! Don't die while we're gone!" And then he flew off, Miracle right behind him.

"Bye!" Shimmer yelled, only half sure that he could hear her.

Then she was left to the sounds of dragons and the waves crashing against the rocks below.

Now that there was no one left to see her, she gathered the cow bones up off the floor where they were scattered. She left the cave and flew down to the rocks below. Perched on an especially large one -- and only getting a little soaked by the spray -- she washed the ivory bones in the salty water. Once they were all sufficiently clean, she went back up to the cave and put them in a large clay pot with some other bones. Then she replaced the pot on her shelf and stepped back.

There were several things on her shelf. This included -- but was not limited to -- several pieces of interesting driftwood, a whole sand dollar, a bowl full of the especially smooth pebbles she found, a water-filled pot that contained a wide assortment of flowers, and several empty pots of varying sizes.

The empty pots were a thing that would change, whether sooner or later. She might fill one with pearls, for instance. For now though, they were empty.

Shimmer went to the entrance of the cave and out to the cliff. She craned her neck around, looking to see if--

As if summoned by the thought of her, a silver-and-pale-blue ball of scales slammed into the cliff next to Shimmer. She yelped and leaped backward. "WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT IT ISN'T FUNNY, STOP LAUGHING, AND PLUS YOU PROBABLY HAVE LIKE FIFTY BRUISES NOW."

Ayu got up, still laughing. "If I do, it was a hundred percent worth it!"

Shimmer glared. Ayu snorted. "So where did your brother and sister go?"

"Questing."

"Where though?"

"The Sand Kingdom."

Ayu nodded. "Where the SandWings live?"

"No, where the SeaWings live," Shimmer replied with complete seriousness.

"Cool. Also, it isn't really a quest."

"Yes it is, shut up."

Ayu snorted, which wasn't shutting up, but she also didn't persue the subject (which they'd argued cheerfully about many times) so Shimmer didn't mind. "Okay, so I have to show you something," Ayu announced with sudden enthusiasm.

"Where?"

"The beach."

"Which one?"

"South."

"Lets go."


When they landed on the sand, Shimmer turned to Ayu, who hadn't given any hints as to what she could be showing her. "Okay, we're here, now WHAT IS IT?"

The SeaWing grinned. "Come here." She walked to the edge of the water and picked up something dark green and slightly slimy.

Shimmer gave Ayu an unimpressed look. "I've seen kelp before."

Ayu rolled her eyes. "Yeah, but you've never eaten it."

Shimmer frowned, thinking she must have misheard. "Uh, what?"

"Just trust me."

"No." Shimmer said flatly. "Do you remember that time with that weird frog Char gave you? 'Cause I do."

Ayu sighed. "Ugh, fine. Look, I'll eat it even." And she did. She tipped her head back, raised the stuff above her head, and ate it.

She chewed, swallowed, all without grimacing even the tiniest bit. "See?"

Shimmer gave her a disgusted look. "That's really really gross."

Ayu gave a dramatic groan. "Look, Char said it helps if you cook it first. Just not burnt to bad, or it's just charcoal."

Shimmer picked up a piece dubiously. "This has sand in it."

"You're so picky!" Ayu shook her head in disbelief. "Just wash it."

Shimmer made sure every last grain of sand was gone before holding in front of her mouth. She exhaled ever so slightly, keeping the plant just above the actual flame.

"Okay I think that's good," Ayu said after a minute.

Shimmer wrinkled her snout and put the crispy kelp in her mouth. She chewed, tilting her head in consideration. "Hm." She swallowed. "That's actually not bad."

Ayu grinned. "See, why waste time hunting when there's all this food all over the beach?"

"Okay, so for one thing," Shimmer began, "a diet of just kelp would get sickening. And it's probably also kind of not healthy to just eat one thing all the time."

Ayu shrugged. "Eh, it's still food. Miracle would probably appreciate it at least."

"True."

"So when are they getting back?"

Shimmer shrugged. "Around a week."

"In time for your hatchday?"

"Probably. That's still two weeks from now."

Ayu sighed and sprawled out on the sand. "I'm so jealous your hatchday's before mine."

Shimmer stretched slowly out beside her, resting her head on her talons in the sand. "Yeah...."

"Why is that even the age? Do they expect us to be responsible enough by then? Char certainly isn't." Char was Ayu's half brother. They shared their SeaWing father, Teal, but Char's (late) mother was a SkyWing, which was why he could breathe fire.

"Who knows. The Talons aren't exactly known for their logic."

"We're technically Talons too, y'know," Ayu reminded her.

"Eh, that's debatable." Shimmer kneaded the sand absentmindedly with her claws. "We don't really have the choice, and it's not like we get to help with anything important."

"That'll be different soon, though."

"Yeah."

They both stared out toward the ocean for a while. They watched the waves break on the shore and then recede back into the endless water, leaving damp sand in their wake. The sky was a clear, cloudless blue. The water reflected the color, if slightly darker. There was just a slight breeze blowing across the sand. It was rather a perfect day, in Shimmer's opinion.

"So what's this thing you're going to tell me?"

Ayu laughed. "I thought you said you figured out how to bottle those up."

"I did!" She fidgeted a little. "I mean, mostly." Ayu laughed. "It's just, you keep thinking about it, and it's harder to block out repetitive thoughts. It's also very annoying, in case you're wondering."

Ayu grinned. "Can't you just read my mind and figure out what it is?"

Shimmer gave her a look. Yes, she could read minds, Ayu was the only other dragon who knew this, and they'd come to the conclusion that she was a hybrid, the other half being NightWing. That would also explain her Night Mode scales and fire breathing ability.

But she knew it was rather intrusive to eavesdrop on things dragons had no control over. Ayu knew she realized that.

"Okay," said the SeaWing in question. "I was spying on Nautilus and them--"

"Without me?!" Shimmer cried in mock betrayal. "I am betrayed. Absolutely betrayed."

"Oh shut up." Ayu shoved her. "ANYWAY, I was spying on them, YES, ALONE, and they were talking about the Dragonets and the Brightest Night and stuff--"

"What else is new?"

"SHUT UP. They SAID that they're gonna choose some dragons to help raise the Dragonets, and y'know why?"

Shimmer frowned. "Why?"

"'Cause the Brightest Night is in three months."

Shimmer's jaw dropped. "What?! Already?"

Ayu grinned "Yeah!"

"Wow, I just -- I never really thought about it actually happening, y'know? It just seems so... I dunno, far off."

"Yeah, I get it."

A thought occurred to Shimmer. "We'll be seven by then."

"Yeah."

"We could help raise the Dragonets, Ayu!"

Ayu shrugged. "I thought you'd say that." She grinned. "Maybe your NightWing powers are rubbing off on me."

Shimmer frowned. "You don't seem excited."

Ayu looked up, feigning surprise. "I'm super excited! Just think, the first SeaWing who can read minds--"

"That isn't what I meant!" Shimmer laughed. "Do you even want to help? With the Dragonets?"

Ayu's grin fell. She turned to look at the ocean again, sadness rolling off her in waves. "...No. I don't."

Shimmer frowned. "Then... why'd you tell me?"

"Because I knew you would want to help."

Shimmer considered this. "So, what if we have to go somewhere away from the base?"

"They were saying they would probably have to. Whoever ends up taking care of the Dragonets, I mean."

"And... you're fine with that?"

Ayu's head dropped to the sand between her talons. "NO."

"Oh."

"Yeah."

The two of them stayed like that for a moment, in silence, before Ayu lifted her head and said, "You can go though. It's fine."

Shimmer glanced at her. "You're sure?"

Ayu nodded firmly, not looking at her.

"...Okay."

"Well --" Ayu stood up abruptly and shook the sand off -- "If you manage to weasle your way into this like I know you will, then we only have a month or two left to just mess around here. Might as well make the best of it, right?"

Shimmer stood up beside her and smiled. "Yeah."

And then they did.