Starting with the conviction that they did in fact exist, Soleil began to gain a sense of what they were. They had a signature effect in her virtual environment, speaking at her from all angles. The Princess asked if they’d encountered people of the Pan-Galactic Imperium.

Silence fell that was larger than the space they were in and longer than the time it took. When it was broken, the speakers sounded far away and down below. “Again and again, those that would see us, did.”

“Even hear us, visit us.”

“But we were never important enough. If they understood us more, we were often destroyed, or driven out. Yet we exist. We want that to be clear.”

“Especially to those who deny it.”

This time the silence came from Soleil. “Is this why you found me?”

Their voices began to move position again. “No, it was you -“

“It was you.”

“- who saw us.” Another pause marked that this was unexpected. “So we are treating you as though you exist.”

“As though you have importance.”

“And we attend you now as one who does.” It was then she recalled her memory from that dream-sending, of people (not creatures) who didn’t appear as any one thing in particular, but perhaps a number of related things, or the relation between things themselves, and as changeable as that. These weren’t glitches in the system, or Vedani kids playing a prank. This wasn’t exactly a courtly introduction, but Princess Soleil recognized the emissarial encounter. Maybe this was their policy of introductory etiquette. Maybe it was a unique situation. Maybe both.

“You may speak with us.”

“We will treat with you, and show you the nature of our characters as though -“

“- as though!”

“- we were not at war.” The Princess knew they were on opposing sides of a conflict, though there was nothing yet between any of them. She accepted this precarious position.

“You may visit or call us; it’s a same difference. May – not so as to give permission, but as acknowledgment of possibility. To be with us is to be with us – it’s a matter of creating a way from us to you, or you to us.”

“We have our homes next door to yours.” Soleil could only think this was an error of translation, because she could sense that homes, next, and door, all meant something else. She felt sure.

“There may be a way to make a way – you must recognize when it may be there.”

“Only then would it be.”

“This way leads to us three, and that may never be true again.”

“There has to be a key, to a door, to a path. These are human things you can remember, right?”

Soleil blinked and thought. “Anytime.”

“Anytime, she says! Well, I say anytime too.”



“Now that we’ve agreed to meet at anytime, let’s have a round of names. Beginning with the human.”


“Rosy Glow.”


“Dragon Food.”

Recaptioned & Kaade

I’ve added the following captions to the photo recap of late summer Worldcon tour travels : https://bonesofstarlight.com/2016/09/23/tour-recap/

Industry, Chicago
Wrigley Hostel
Romeo & Juliet, Palmer House Hilton
Twelfth Night Columbia Park
Burger Time
The Runcible Spoon, Bloomington Indiana
Longtime buddy, math Professor Noah Snyder
Kansas City, Missouri
autograph getter Rafeal Richardson
shelved at Fairewood Press
with George R. R. Martin
I broke down in front of Tamora Pierce
upon the Iron Throne
Tamora Pierce’s autographing line
Wild Cards with David Levine
Hugo Losers Party – yep that’s me
first filipina Hugo award (she let me hold it!) for semipro fanzine
Hallcon with Vanessa McClellan, Rafeal Richardson, Elliot Schmidt
at the Hadley Rille party
Josh & Lisa: E Pluribus Hugo
George R. R. Martin announcing the Alfies
Alfie Award to Black Gate, John O’Neill accepting
Alfie Award to Locus Magazine
Chicago Midland Theater
MidAmericon 2
I held this Hugo award and the shelf collapsed by itself, breaking this commemorative ashtray.
The Foglio family, of Girl Genius.
with the Black Gate Alfie, Vanessa MacLellan, Fonda Lee, Alec Nevala-Lee
at the Green Lady, Charlie Parker’s old digs
Bubonicon 48 with Rachel Caine & Jeffe Kennedy
George R. R. Martin reading at Bubonicon 48
Ming the Merciless
with Robert & Kristen Sevilli, & Niki.. good times in the autographing line
At tea with Jane Linskold
& William S. at tea
with Melinda Snodgrass – got my copy!
Thomas Christopher Haag in Albuquerque
at Van Loon Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico
such lovely chairs
Meow Wolf’s mysterious living room
Meow Wolf
Meow Wolf
Meow Wolf
Symbol @ Deep Space Coffee
Rachel Mulder’s typewriter art at Powell’s City of Books
Simran Narmis slow paparazzi polaroil of The Wild Body
Rogue’s End at Faerieworlds 15
Unicorn Ladies
Totoro at Faerieworlds opening ceremony
Vaquita mermaid reading The Drowner by Peadar O Guilin
Pearl Solora Zule & Preston Hughes at Oberon’s Traveling Tavern
with Einar Selvik of Wardruna & Jeff at Seidr workshop
night camp party with Niel Mitra of Faun, & Fox
at The Challenge reading event alongside Caroline Yoachim
The Challenge collaborative event at Photon Factory Seattle, featuring Animals of Grace
Caroline Yoachim reading from Seven Wonders of a Once & Future World
St. Cinder at Sh’BangFest pirate camp
the Demon Bradley at the soapbox derby finish line
prop dragon by Wingnut Customs
James Gull finishing in the Doom Koffin
Sh’BangFest, Alger, Washington

This is Kaade, from Bubonicon 48.  We’re planning on collaborating.



It was like a wink, and she noticed it as one might, after the fact.  Soleil stopped in her meanderings through visualized information.  She remarked on it.

Later, she was muddling around in the same areas of research.  It had crossed her mind to poke into the parameters of her environment, but that would do her no good as she wasn’t there to escape.  Soleil still felt a flavor of restlessness, searching for something that wasn’t there.  And then it was, again.  Right there.  And there.  Then not anymore.

That unusual glimmer appeared in her streams more frequently, like an approaching animal.  She couldn’t find anything to learn about it, so she played at coaxing it.  This felt like a little game, and she wondered if there was something wrong with her streamviewer.

Soon, Soleil found herself caught in a looped knot of connectivity.  Information pathways operated with circular logic, like a maze of doors that led back to the same room.  Then, something turned the lights on, and her programs went berserk – in a nice way.

There were a few consistent tracks in the disturbance that kept a kind of form.  Soleil could follow them by observing where there was something particularly unusual.  These unusual things showed patterns different from each other, like individuals.  The Princess wondered at it, while being aware that programmatically speaking, she was stuck in a back alley.

A noise began that was just like a word:  Hhhhhhheeeeeyyyyyy.  It flickered from one point to another.

Soleil put her hands on her hips and tried to take this in.  “What have you-“  She interrupted herself, “actually, who are you?”  The protracted ‘hey’ that ensued sounded also like laughter.

Then a flurrious introduction in very well-formed language.  “Who what is that?”

“Who/what is right.”

“Who-what is us, and she’s right.”

“About what, who?”

“Us.  She was completely right about us.”

“What about us?”

“That we’re here!”

“So you found us, and you saw us.  How do you think you did that?”

“Yes – tell us how!”

The Princess tilted the view, keeping all the glitches in her field of vision.  Somehow they were more present than the program.  “It seemed as though it were you who found and saw me.”

One replied.  “Not entirely, no.  At a point, yes.”

Soleil asked as to whether they were Vedani.  “No, but we know them.”

“They know us.  When they can find us!”

“We show them.”

“We sure do.”

“So they know us.  We are named.”

Soleil regretted it as she said it.  “But what are you?”  This was followed by a silence.

“We’re not always entirely sure.”

“You tell us.”

“And, tell us how you found us!”


Now that she was tall and strong enough to open the barricades herself, Soleil ran the wall track for special occasions. It happened often enough that each time was memorable, though not strange.

First she’d go around opening the doors. One barely known edge of the Imperial Court, the track was worn, and never repaired in full. It wasn’t a secret – it was a hundred secrets that amounted to one well-known fact. Soleil liked to see whose attention she could catch with a wave as she skirted the upper and unusual views.

The record of the run was lodged in her muscles, in the limb angles and variances. Every part of the path was made to be walked on, but she didn’t think any other feet bothered to traverse the entirety.

Sheer edges in some places, breathtaking and life-giving. She powered up, letting her breath breathe her, bringing her body to move.


“They’ve recruited you for further succession aboard an Alpha?” Soleil tossed the volley baton end over end in one hand, shield spaces around her flickering on and off. Draig rested his on his shoulder as the two descended to the workout basement.

“Yeah,” the lad replied, “I’m leaving in two weeks for the base off-planet from Foshan.”

“That’s remote.” They emerged from the stairs into a warehouse basement with extremely worn wooden floors. Nothing else lay out in the room, four exact pillars upholding the expanse.

“It’ll be like any other orbit station.”

“So, this may be the last time you spar against this upstart scrub?”

“Don’t call yourself that just because you haven’t won yet. And you’re not an upstart.” Draig effected a front-to-back shield rainbow while they loosened up.

“I’m still technically too young to be allowed to play. I have to notice when my status is the reason I’m given dispensation.”

Draig held his baton end up in a ready position from his zone. “There are ways to earn it. Stubbornly forging a shortcut could be considered one. Where did you learn to write a syllabus like that?”

“Don’t ask. Thanks for daring to duel me all this time.”

“You’re welcome. For what comes next!” They faced off, the younger girl already in a learned stance. They began with chivalry, a dialogue that allowed each other to display their finesse. With their batons, they batted the bright hitpoint between them while producing shielded areas with different rebound modifiers. Some of her moves had evolved past training, and he saw how she used a heavier baton for counterbalance.

As they ramped up their movement, Soleil’s patterns went bonkers, as if she were using three effects instead of two. The hitpoint interacted oddly with his shield placings, bouncing and brushing them at tangents. He saw that she was attracting specific feints, of which he gave some but not all.

There came a moment when Draig realized that something had been achieved. His shields were different. When activated, the planes were ragged with rippling holes. Her ability to achieve damage inside his shielding went from nowhere near his, to completely unfair – but he was smiling. He thought he might have just learned something about this exercise.

Afterward he asked what she did, and she replied, “I used instrument harmonics. Tone and tempo that match the technology. And programmatical geometry. And persistent point-slinging. I was not allowed to get distracted if I wanted to test my theory, because of how annoying you can be.”

“It’s my edge. I think you’ve found yours.”

Soleil’s face showed confusion. “What’s that?”

“The sudden and complete dismantling through study.” He saluted her with his weapon. “It’s been an honor.”