The chill was real; a Starship Search vehicle all the way from Mount Washington was in the area, possibly within a year's travel, too close for comfort.
Grek pointed to his audio heart, sitting on his shoulder like a rocket ready to take off, the small red flame of the generator throwing a most minor span of light behind him. He was well aware that they were in the Pan Field of Seven Stars.
"This is the key to all silence, Gorba," he said to his space partner with his eyes and his imagination. "When you have command of this you are no place The High Chosen Few can touch you. They track you by reception, by speech, by echoes you leave free in the whole universe, by the exhalation of engine breath and light. That heart engine of theirs is the greatest search invention in the last million years or so for chasing Audions and Fadeaways like us. They can find runaway hearts no matter where they are hidden by the heart's own messages. Make sure your heart generator light never points to Mount Washington in New Hampshire of the USA on Earth out from the sun seven full sticks.
Gorba, all 30 feet of her, thin as one rare line of imagination, casting the least shadow she could control, as she had for the 300 years of their flight through the universe, looked at Grek's heart and felt the pulse talking to her through the art of imagination, as Grek had taught her.
For all their time together, in flight from the deadliest of the carbon prisons, she and Grek had survived because of his wiles and abilities of self control, the imagination being the chief control weapon against discovery by the High Chosen Few. In his way Grek said again, nodding his head, shifting his eyes as if they were envelopes of correspondence, "Just imagine us together forever, Gorba, by ourselves, no more carbon prison for us, no heel coming down on our free thoughts. Just we two, one Audion and one Fadeaway, loose out here doing what we want to do, our imagination fertile. They will never touch us."
Not once in all that time span had 35-foot Grek turned his generator light toward Mount Washington, sole base of the huge heart engine that searches out heart pulses in the whole span of time, even into some of the Dark Passage beyond the stars.
Gorba noted again the elegant slimness of Grek, with the small knob of his heart sitting on his left shoulder, knowing that fine displacement was what first attracted her to him.
"He is a Lefty," she had realized back then in the beginning of her feelings, "like my father was and my twin brother Garb." Even then, more than 500 years earlier, she had loved him, and been found out by the High Chosen Few who did not want such attractions to get started. Their 200 years in Carbon Prison #X11 were halted when Grek set his imagination off and running; he and Gorba went with it, across time, the universe, to the Pan Field at the chasm rim of the Dark Passage, at the edge of universal light and universal gravitation where Gorba could only imagine how many Fadeaways had been cast into nothingness when their sentences were up in the carbon prisons. It had been worth the travel and the time.
In the Pan Field of Seven Stars they had found their solitude, letting love loose in the vivid light of imagination, and all its secrets and veils of pleasure.
Now, they were startled again by intrusion.
Gorba merged herself, as they had done innumerable times in their flight, becoming one with Grek, becoming the thinnest line of imagination in the entire cosmos. As usual, she heard his imagination as it began to twirl, the facility Grek has at reach, at understanding, at solution. At her second level of imagination she thought, "He is my hero, forevermore." She managed to bury the thought behind a piece of memory, thinking Grek would never know it existed, yet knowing if he did he would respect her attempt at privacy. Then, with that thought, she didn't care, and let it free.
"Hush," he said with his eyes, one hand in the merest movement so that no shadow could find any movement. "This is our biggest test to date. In all this flight of ours, since we left the carbon state prison, this is the most dangerous of our close encounters. It is even closer to discovery than the time we hung out for a year in the eclipse on the far side of Oblivion."
"Why is that?" she wondered.
"This search engine of theirs is better than I even imagined. It has a velocity that's unimagined by any teaching standard of the Audion Society. Yesterday it was a year away. Today it is at the point of discovery and fatal return. The professors, even the oldest ones from pre-Saturnalia, were never able to get us this far in our thought, not in any of the cosmos classes I was in, and never in any professor's late discussions with favorite students."
"Oh," Gorba said, "I can imagine you there, in the chamber of stars with a noble thought. I am drawn continually to that impression of you. It is so compelling, so unbelievable that I think it only on certain occasions, such as now when we are faced with discovery and return to the carbon prisons. If we don't get sent back to #X11, I think I could stand it if I was with you, merged the way we had imagined ourselves. The merging is the great silence and joy that hovered like a promise in my early time. In any other carbon prison than #X11, it would be so much easier if they catch up to us now. I feel the alarm taking hold. It promises more of the unimagined. I refuse to think of being cast out there into the Dark Passage after I have spent a century or so in carbon imprisonment."
When he held up his long thin hand, the fingers almost talking, she understood the message. Silence reigned in Gorba the Fadeaway the way she remembered how some evenings were commanded when she sat with her grandfather under a star and looking at the cosmos she believed was all hers, the way her grandfather had promised. "This true beauty of all cosmos will come unto you. It is my promise." Silence was beauty to every Fadeaway. He had made that known to her in so many ways that all their recoveries were uncertain, even if she thought them up again. Oh, hadn't she done that so many times.
Grek flicked a finger. "No thought," it said, "for a day or so. They have beams afield, large beams we cannot see, but are there for my imagination. Merge now if you will, perhaps one last time this side of the Dark Passage. We do not want to leap, if that is to be our choice, before we are certain of discovery and return. Too many Audions and Fadeaways have gone past here in many ways, without any hope of getting back, or imagining the coming back, the dark fires burning everything that exists.
There was absolute silence. He held no thought. She was trying to hide her feelings, putting Grek aside from the truest of sensations, the most favorable sensations, fearing the exposure would come no matter how hard she tried. It was so unfair.
Grek shivered the length of his frame, all 35 feet of him, as if he merged with an ice vehicle calved from a point in the frozen part of the universe. Gorba shivered in turn, the merging taking place. She shivered again. Grek was worth it all … the carbon prison … the flight … the discovery and return.
"Ah," he withered unto her. "I have a solution." She understood it was all beneath his person, hidden behind some innocuous memory even the great search engine agents would disregard.
"It is what has come to me from one of the Saturnalia professors," Grek shivered in silence, "from the great passage across the whole length of thought hanging its energy forever, in such a way that even the High Chosen Few cannot eradicate or destroy it down to its merest atomic sense."
"What do you propose? she thought, keeping that thought behind another soft memory, lost in the merging where so many things can go undetected and only exist by late recall, by the elements of imagination.
Grek strengthened their merging, the total alignment becoming supreme at his command and near the edge of impossibility. She was grasped and mingled the whole length of her frame.
"Imagine you hate me," he shivered again, and Gorba the Fadeaway, understanding everything that had come to her in their everlasting flight across the whole body of the cosmos, hated with all passion the Audion known as Grek who had captured her in her younger years,
"The lefty who has it all," she allowed herself with one quick thought, as the great starship floated past them and careened off the Dark Passage for a quick return to Mount Washington, elsewhere, where imagination placed it.