Trick

Out! Have a happy Halloween weekend.

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104

“We can bring you things you don’t know, that you’ve never seen,” they had said in more words than that. “But – you have to ask.” So the Princess thought of something to ask them before they released her streamview from the program loop – a genuine curiosity, simple and inconsequential. Soleil told them about the book she never found in the Great Library at home, from her memory’s sparse detail, with the word ‘movements’ in the title. The three individuals had accepted her request as reasonable.

Now, Soleil was again at a streamviewer, the common equipment that also allowed for human connectivity to the Vedani network interface. Not just a few, but many things made for Vedani suited Alisandrian human capabilities as well.

With her new skills and the ingrained technological acumen imparted by her mother in their lessons together, Soleil could create harmless program structures to her suiting. She’d created an inviting shell for housing unusual occurrences without disturbing other virtual furniture. She noticed residual environmental effects from her previous encounter with the Kao-Sidhe, as they suggested she call them.

Neither of them were waiting for the other. They intended to collide, at which moment the Gazebo would open. A place to meet with a nice view, designed a little like a trap to spring up around them on mutual recognition of their next encounter. It was amenable to them both, with a stability that would allow Soleil to keep her grounding, and enough flexibilities to allow the Kao-Sidhe a comfortable presence. Their embodiment had been characterized by phenomena to Soleil; this time they made an effort to visually appear.

They presented relatable expressions that wouldn’t stress-load the system. A jumble of humanoid and other puzzling features represented each, to the degree of a quick knife-and-woodblock carving. Each was nevertheless iconically distinguishable, and the encounter felt a little more real.

“We’ve brought you a page,” they began without introduction. The Gazebo was an attractive visual setting, with conglomerate views of favorite gardens around the Pan-Galaxy.

“A book-style page!”

“We believe it’s exactly what you are looking for.” Soleil faced from one icon-being to another. One resembled a bright vegetable and was mostly silent. The second had a lot of detail embellishment and flourished with excesses of color. The other stood forth with presentation and drew a lot of interest. Garlic, Rosy Glow, and Dragon Food didn’t bother naming themselves again, but Princess Soleil could assign their distinct attributes.

They displayed a painstakingly crafted page. A graininess indicated that it was an artistic virtual replica of something physical. It looked to be from the right age of her life, and the title included the word ‘movements’. But the page was covered in dance diagrams. Soleil really didn’t think that was the book she’d chosen as a youngster, but it was interesting – at least, difficult-looking and similar to a familiar martial art.

She accepted the page graciously from Dragon Food. The stream transfer took unusually long, and for some reason their virtual sprites were winking the entire time.

103

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.”

“Anytime.”

“Anytime.”

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

“Soleil.”

“Rosy Glow.”

“Garlic.”

“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
mammatus
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
Amtrak!
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
masquerade!
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.

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102

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!”