21 \ 203

Though she’d gone to the Tempering with only one full night’s worth of sleep after matching forces with dozens of Aureny representatives, Soleil requested two full sleeps after that to restore herself before discussions. An emissary named Xhatter came to see her between the two, asking if the Princess would like to see the flower fields. Soleil agreed, also gaining admission for her companions.

They were guided through simple but well-engineered warrens to a cavernous level near the surface. Under some skylight openings far overhead, a lush plain filled with fleshy petals breathed color. Wider than ten sporting greens, beams of light arrowed through and suffused throughout from one level to another. There were more garden caverns above and below each other; large crystals, hanging in skylights and holes, refracted and scattered light into the recesses. Other stones placed on the floor received beams to cast diffuse auras that bathed the surrounding plant life with light.

The carpet of foliage ranged from Soleil’s waist to shoulder height, rich painterly palettes on petals of thumb-to-wrist thickness. The Princess didn’t keep track of the others’ explorations, but she could hear their admiration and enjoyment as they spread out.

Soft munching sounds traveled through the place as Aureny shuffled gently, cropping and masticating hearty mouthfuls between stony tooth ridges. Xhatter explained through Rosy Glow that this was the prevalent way of eating, though there were other methods of growing and trading.

Soleil selected a patch of sunlight, to lay down amongst the flowers. She was sure she wouldn’t be stepped on. This was what she would do today.


Laptop keyboard failure can get very, very frustrating. Mine’s been limping along, but certain keys began to require very conscious engagement, and I’m a fast touch typer! It’s not an old laptop, and I don’t bash my keys – yes, it’s done a couple novels, a few websites, and plenty of social networking, but keyboards are made for that. However, not this one. So it was time.


I most definitely, by far and away, prefer the feel and dimensions of the previous generation of mac keyboard. It uses a different type of switch that doesn’t pop as much under the fingers, I prefer the approximately 3-micron-greater difference in height profile, approx 1.5-micron-greater spacing between keys, the single micron of space between the key base and the housing plate that makes it much easier to service at home, and even the plastic has better grip texture. Maybe I’m just old-fashioned, and plenty of people prefer the new model.

And though I like the original texture, I have myself a new set of (out-of-print/out-of-business) Lazerwood veneer key covers and vinyl letter stickers to help me learn Dvorak typing. At my stage of typing fitness, I’m ready to spend some time changing styles to avoid similar-stress pain. Bonus for switching up motorneural connections adjacent to language processing and ideation. I play like that.

At times along this Bones of Starlight journey, I’ve experienced equipment explosion like never before, I mean next level stuff. It makes me feel like a mayday astronaut shedding shuttle parts during atmospheric re-entry: keep your cool and land this ship! Make it work! I’m just… blazing, apparently. It’s okay. I’m willing to blaze like never before, if that’s what I’m here to do.

My fingers feel very happy with my new-in-box previous-gen keyboard. Thank you for all the support that’s gotten me far enough to burn a laptop keyboard in the middle of the third book of a trilogy.

20 \ 202

The oceans of Foshan are the deepest of any inhabited planet in the Pan-Galactic Imperium, making the light on the surface appear unlike any other: prismatic layers of motion and mood, smooth and sharp in dimension. On a clear day, the surface is brilliant.

The pilots of the mismatched copters hovering in stakeout stalemate had to make themselves ignore the hypnotizing wavescape below, as it could cause momentary blindness – not good when fingers were resting lightly on triggers.

“Does our intel give us an expectation window?” asked a Foundational pilot to her crewmate.

“Any minute now, okay? This is the surfacing triangulation. We know what we need to do.”

In one of the corporate craft which had descended to threaten-the-threatening after the call from Arys Steinman, Karma Ilacqua was making rapid fire calls with her sunglasses. Her pilot tuned in and out, catching a snappy line here and there but keeping her nose well out of the business.

“They’re considering it.
“What would be attractive to you?
“How many? Dozens, specifically pertinent.
“Send me a rundown of your speculative interests. I’ll see what I have that may apply.
“What forms of situational support can you offer?”

No one remarked when for a shocking moment, light reflection disappeared entirely from the waves. Maybe it was a cloud, one of those invisible clouds.

Arkuda, watching them from within the surface shimmer of sunlight, could feel when the parts of the universe that were alive in Ignivf released from the living being. There would still be such a thing as a spark, still the bloom of heat, but the life was gone. It hurt, and without sublimating, Arkuda experienced multiplicity – the many places in er elemental existence where the final absence of Ignivf made something feel dead.

In the moment at the birth of a sun, Ignivf was no longer there. Where the sun’s intensity kindled a density that sent explosive hot showers awaited by a landscape of dormant seeds, Ignivf was gone. Like the disappearance of a color, without any colors missing.

People may fail to register the warmth of the sun on their face; synapse transmissions were spiritless. In the morning, an engine doesn’t start. At sundown, someone’s lights won’t work, and someone else has a hard time lighting a fire. These things are no longer like they were, and will not be again.

Arkuda sank down into the photon stream, to reappear in the Arch. The full daylight of the sunstrips was somehow solemn. First AIDD Arjun Woollibee, addressing an unusual issue, walked into his control office to find the Dragon Arkuda in humanoid form laying down on er back, looking at the ceiling. “I need to talk to Arctyri,” ‘e said.

Something was certainly amiss. “We’re working something out, also we’re not scheduled to go up for a few more days.”

“I am telling you that ‘e will be here soon to check on us.”

“Are you alright?”

“Arctyri will be here soon.” Later that day, Arctyri’s arrival was announced by formations of icy spires in the oceanic vicinity. The crew had been alerted while they resolved the issue, so there was no undue alarm.

In a burst of effulgence, Arkuda remanifested in the photon stream. Uninterrupted, it expanded and coiled in a loosely incorporated form the like of which Arctyri often favored. Without explanation, together they circled the structure. Those observing witnessed an unforgettable ephemeral phenomenon that no recording could really capture.

A swath of sunlight at the bottom of the ocean wafting through a cold concentration created a filamental filigree of flames drawn in ice, feathering out in gestural whorls of magnificent sculpture, sparkling and translucent like an ancient dawn. These crystalline forms dissipated slowly upwards, reforming as they touched each other in barely glimpsable micro-scenes of memory. The ice melted and the sunbeam went away, leaving a hush of wonder and a few tracks washing away in the sand.