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Soleil nodded her agreement to the requested conversation, and the others dispersed thoughtfully, leaving her at the playground with Raev. He massaged his right arm stump, still with no prosthesis, and turned to face her directly, in the Vedani manner. “I have a lot to communicate upon this occasion. Are you ready to listen?”

The tragedy of this planet seeping in at the corners of her eyes, Soleil carefully laced her fingers into a mudra she called the Recording Device, a reminder to keep her thoughts receptive and perception clear. “I’m here, and I can hear you. Speak.”

”Walk with me.” They went along the lake, in the direction past the playground and toward the school. “I graduated from crayons at this school. My father was a Magistrate, and brilliant with systems. I heard from the Vedani, about how you gleaned mirror coordinates to their ship from our contact session with you. My father, Rence Sturlusson, did something similar with system interruption data that translated out to intentional messages. His discoveries were inspiring and invigorating. Vedani hadn’t been able to establish recognition from any other Imperium contacts, but were ready to share technology and make exchanges. We were beginning to create infrastructure for interaction and inclusion, proud to be the bringers of a paradigm shift. I was about ten.”

Large butterflies occupied the shoreline, flapping lackadaisically between spaced out bunchgrasses. Soleil did not try to make out any unusual shapes on the ground, but appreciated the moment’s clement weather. Her hands still held each other, interlaced.

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