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.”

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