125.2 \ 317

Without saying anything, Soleil took a seat next to Pepita, who offered her head for pats. One of the girls, who hadn’t offered a name, addressed her. “So, you know about what went down right, since you’re using the back-end chat.” Soleil nodded. “It was so wild. Everything’s different now, and we’re glad. We know what’s really going on, and people should know. When we get together for this, it’s one of the ways we don’t forget, how we figure out the words – if we get in the flow, they just come out, and it sounds as real and true as it feels. It’s about the reality we’re living in, and if we say it right people seem to figure things out on their own.” Soleil nodded again while the dog bonded with her. The group resumed and started laying down rhymes.

…as I was thinking about it,
I started to realize
that I needed to believe
what was in front of my own eyes
that the things I didn’t know
were what was weighing me down
that I needed to grow
if I wanted to stick around

They passed the beat around so each person could have a say. One of the teens set up a little camera, and Soleil allowed her transmitted image to be recorded. They got solid clips of everyone.

…people can’t always face it
when they did something wrong
facing mistakes to fix them
means you have to be strong
surrendering to the truth
doesn’t mean playing along

Soleil actually did join in a little here and there, saying what she knew and what she felt. Something about this medium called for self-honesty, and she was ready for that in this moment. It was just what she needed. She dove into this rare environment, speaking with the a frank transparency and adaptable vulnerability that resulted in rhyme. They nodded back, and it fueled their continuing conversation.

…sometimes people are people
even when we think they’re not
gotta get over ourselves,
in case we forgot
it’s up to us,
we could have a little or a lot
we can give the respect we deserve,
and deserve the respect we got

Words that approached the heart of the matter were still mysteriously cryptic in the way that some things can only be known by those who know them.

…I did what I did
for a world I can live in
loving this life
means that I can’t just give in
we don’t need these poisons
we gotta make better choices

The Princess Ascendant in disguise reached inside to find a word for the wise, for those in the know, something worth mentioning to impart while she could. They welcomed her say, trading beats, rhymes, looks, and laughs for a while.

…and what if this is all I could do
with more than anyone else,
could I do enough for you?
do I live up to my name,
did I change this game
for the people who needed it changed
will tomorrow still come
now that it’s been rearranged
will I know, if I get old,
that I chose the right way?
either way,
it’s me that’s here today

125.1 \ 317

The half-burnt shell of a house shielded a metal drum fire. It was the deep end of dusk. Sitting on some vehicle seats around the fire were four older teens dressed in darks, and a dog. They shared snacks and drinks and thoughts. They heard someone coming down the side stairs.

Isten had told his mother Leyga that he would be out for while. Acknowledging his new level of earned maturity, she rarely inquired anymore as to where. He was glad he didn’t have to lie; this wasn’t a good kid spot, but his friends weren’t the bad kind. They were the bravest, the tightest. They’d done something hard together, and stood the test. They felt right about what they’d done, but they still weren’t sure if authority would come after them, if it was dangerous for them to see each other – even though right now, they were the only ones who understood what they’d just been through. Whoever else might see the invite probably shared at least some of their experiences. The windows – the puzzles – the net – the hills – the portals – the training – laying down in front of armed forces under Aquarii at full blast – the Vedani – the meadow – and now what?

He threw his arms up when he saw them, and the dog came over to frolic around him a little. “Puppita!” He ruffled the dog’s noggin, and went to sit with a girl on a two-seater who leaned in and gave him a kiss. The group was beatboxing in turn, getting warmed up when another person started coming down the stairs.

They turned and saw a woman, of young teacher age but dressed like they were, with a bandana over her face beneath grey eyes. Pausing a moment, they hailed her, and she waved a black-gloved hand. There was something familiar about her. “Did we see you on the plateau?” asked Isten.

Anonymous Soleil shook her head. “No, I heard about this from the chatposting.”

“Well welcome, we were just about to get started. Pick a spot, Pepita over here is friendly, and feel free to jump in any time you want.”

124 \ 316

“There’s something I have to do next,” spoke the Princess to her space sled. “I mean, there are a lot of things that could demand my attention right now, but I feel like there’s something hidden close at hand, an important call. Do you know of anything in particular? Is anything obvious to you, Moonshadow?”

Moonshadow proudly delved through its multivarious net connections and system linkups. It displayed to her a familiar name:
UIXTR!

“Something from Uixtr? He must be busy. I wonder what it is.” Moonshadow flashed some excited colors, so it must be good. For a moment, Soleil looked around her at the trees of this otherwise inaccessible mountain plateau overlooking Alisandre Capital. Across the way was the stone atop Mt. Kairas, and in the other direction was her landing meadow with its backpacker’s trail. It was just starting to turn dusky in the sky, with only the first star shining. She looked back down at the display, which showed a list of activity nodes, triple-highlighted in the way that meant this information was actively circulating in the aetherscape, and had been noted by some. The top node was dynamic, receiving current contribution. The metadata, Uixtr’s and others’, expressed fondness and trust. Important people were congregating – in the way that Vedani express importance in depth of relevance rather than through hierarchy. They could be anybody, but Vedani knew them and deemed them notable, including the opinion of one who in tense times had shown her respect from under threat.

This was crucial enough for her time right now. They would be humans; here, in this city; and she wouldn’t know who they are. There was a coordinate, with a closed-network invitation. Moonshadow explained that this was a new sidenet, created for – she might have only just seen the news, this happened while they were both in the Arch – it was created for a huge action that actually went off, with Vedani and kids and Aquarii and people from all over who did something to a secret lab and neutralized the Imperium’s bioweapons, which it had used on itself. Moonshadow said all this rather glibly; it could comprehend events, but without the engagement that would create shock unless the moment were present. It still preferred mostly to use text on its display, though it could use sound and the languages it had learned to speak aloud with Rosy Glow for occasional emphasis.

She should go in some form of soft disguise, so as not to freak them out, but prepared to reveal her identity. It was coming down to the wire now – things were coming to a head for important decision-making, and she would lay her ace if it was called for. What would she need to say, and what would she need to learn? It seemed right to acknowledge a dynamic element, which told her to be ready for anything; which, she should be anyway – now more than ever.

123.2 \ 315

… We destroyed so many of them, willfully. We destroyed their homes, and in doing so, destroyed our own. Stop the killing, or the violence won’t stop. All our own blood we wade in by our own hands, that could stop…

… we are lifting the spell – not this dragonspell, but the older spell…

… the towers are gone, but we hold the pieces of them now. We kiss the talisman heirloom, tell the tale, and feel us returned to ourselves…

… What if I have to believe in the new-old magic in order to keep the beauty in my life? The moment I try to deny it, I feel something most precious begin to slip away, something I just got back, and I can’t, I just can’t…

Some started saying things aloud on the street, while others formed a new table of talk at their public house. People were finding ways to share new songs and poems, forming the next era of art – so far-reaching that somewhere, anywhere, a reminder would exist.

123.1 \ 315

The remembering was making its way through every likely channel, through a multiplicity of voices. There were scraps from person to person and whispers-to-shouts over all wavebands, both the restored common means and the newly invented workarounds. People needed to share their processing of an event that was almost personally mundane – finding something lost – yet staggering in the sudden collective remembering.

… this is no illusion, this is the dispelling of an illusion…

… though we denied their very existence in an effort to erase them and call the realities they share with us ours alone, they are still willing to return to us the best parts of our history if we recant our falsehoods and tell the story as it should be told…

… and the memory of all good things in my life is clearer if I admit to myself and to others how I, my family, even my people in times long past (how do I know these things?) have known and interacted with the sidhe, or Kao-Sidhe more formally. I was afraid of being called a fraud, but my word became a stronger bond…