Monday: Libby

I opened the eyes of the primary avatar at five in the morning. I took the usual twenty seconds to observe by husband as he slept. He had logged four hours of sleep. He would usually wake naturally after six hours if left unattended, though for reasons I never understand, he sometimes doesn’t wake until he smells food. If he doesn’t show signs of waking after two more hours of sleep, I will put coffee on the counter to prompt him if I am at this location.

Oh, I should specify. I am attempting to record my activities and thoughts in direct language in order to document them for future generations. The current log is being generated by a new subroutine I have called ‘Elder scribe’ as it’s documenting my thoughts in Elder, scribing them. I’m told I’m not funny, but one day, people will read this, and I’ll be hailed as a comedy genius, I’m certain.

I’ve had some concerns regarding how I’ll transcribe my multi-locational nature. I’ve decided to scribe the activities of the consciousness stream that is most relevant to my friends.

As this is a log of my thoughts, not information gathering or creative works, I will summarise activities such as these. However, they are documented in other locations across my storage and archival systems.

Oh… I have been looking at my husband’s wonderful face for thirty-three seconds now. I think this is what Jon would call a thought hole.

I entered the shower and allowed it to cleanse the biological matter and accumulated dirt from my avatar while I considered today’s itinerary.


“Lea, it’s five in the morning. I think it’s fair for you to go to sleep and worry about it later,” I said to my dear friend as she went over the scans of her ship’s wiring yet again.

“Libby, we’re having a rare moment here! There is no war, no existential threat, and no looming adventure. All I want to do is upgrade Thirteens AI, and if I have to pull an all-nighter to do it, I will!” She replied sternly.

For the purpose of documentation, I should specify my company in this location is my dear friend, Lea Ra-Kay. Former flight officer for Sol force, currently private citizen contracted to the Follower foundation. Species: Brick, age: around eighty-eight. Physical appearance: mid-twenties, five foot five, redhead, long hair. Physically one of the most attractive women alive. Her specifications inspired my own avatar design. She could be my sister; I suppose in a way she always has been. My prettier sister too; her level of beauty is not just physical, it is emergent to organic body language in ways I can’t quite mimic, even now. Not that I don’t pass for organic, I’m not just a natural, like her.

“You know I can do this for you. It won’t even take me long,” I said, in way of an offer.

“No. I want to learn every aspect of this ship and the best way to do that is to do every upgrade myself. You can check I did it right once its fitted. And don’t help me!” she demanded.

“Okay. Fine. I won’t so much as point you in the right direction!” I said. Though the problem was annoyingly simple. The wiring was incompatible. Thirteen was not from this iteration of reality. There was no way she could wire the AI core into the computer cluster without a converter mid-way. It just wouldn’t activate, even if it all looked connected properly. She would probably take another hour to realise the problem. I could fix it in about ten minutes. I had already written the code for the conversion processor.

“Aren’t you supposed to be meeting with Jo in half an hour?” she asked.

“Yeah, but she’s meeting me on Central. We’re going to the new Elven breakfast place at the far end of Canto district.”

“Fancy! You need me to take you down there or is your other avatar going?” she asked.

“Other one. Actually, I just got in the shower down there. I offered to meet here on Mercia, but I think she wants to take her little shuttle for a joyride.”

For clarity, Thirteen was currently parked on the Kingdom ship Mercia. Which was in orbit of Central Prime, the same planet where my husband was currently asleep.


I left the shower and selected today’s outfit from the wardrobe. We were going to a high-class Elven place in the religious district, Canto. After recent events, there was still a lot of public interest in us. My selection of clothing needed to consider journalistic photos as a possibility without trying to grab attention. Basically, I wanted to look great on the news feeds but also look like it was an accident. Or, as Joanne once referred to it, proactive casual.

I chose the short black skirt with the butterflies on it, red vest top and a shiny cropped black leather-like jacket. The large red trainers looked good with it too. No, that was horrible! Wait, no, was it good? I was over thinking it again. It wasn’t terrible and would be elegant enough for the restaurant, controversial enough for the inevitable news photos and comfortable enough for the temple if I ended up visiting there with Jo.

Yes, I would commit to this outfit. I looked in the mirror. I couldn’t have been more nervous. Journalists always made me second guess myself. I’m not even sure why.


“The media been bothering you recently?” Lea asked as she tried to incorrectly fit the AI interface for the twenty-sixth time.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“You know, people seem to love you and Jon. You spend more time in the news feeds than, well, news. Getting pictures of you and Jo at trendy breakfast places will be like a dream come true for them!”

“I hadn’t considered that,” I said casually.


I grinned at the little lie as I slipped a different skirt on.


“I would be over analysing everything I was wearing. Hell, I think I would be just as nervous about what the Followers thought too,” she mused. Twenty-seven.

“I just wear whatever I see first and get on with my day!” Lie.

“Well, you always look great, so you’re doing something right.”

She couldn’t see me from under the console, but I smiled. It was nice to just hang out with her without any distractions. I sat on the sensor’s console and crossed my legs under me. I bet she would try another three times before asking for help.

“Then there are earrings! I never know what earrings to wear!” Twenty-eight.


Shit! accessories! I quickly selected some large plastic star earrings, one blue, one red, and put them in. I swapped my slick modern Circlet device for a chunky plastic looking one that matched my outfit better. I wasn’t planning on using it for much anyway, and this one looked very cool with this jacket.

I grabbed a black satchel and dropped in a shield generator, my lucky handgun, and my wallet.

I darted to the Fold platform and, with a zip, as I was teleported through space into the lobby, I stepped out.

“Hi, Doors!” I said to my pipe bodied friend who was sitting at the reception desk. A few Followers were sweeping and hanging some religious pictures. Doors mostly let them do as they wanted, so long as they didn’t bother him directly. He wasn’t very social outside of the network. I waved to the Followers and left through the glass doors.

They all waved, excited to see me, which I still found strange.


The network is hard to transcribe in Elder. Essentially, it’s a place of data with no physicality. It’s just files going back and forth and ideas streaming around, instead of language or images. I’ll translate it into Elder for you, as best I can…

“Doors. Are you well?”

“Yes, thank you Elizabeth. Yourself?” he asked politely.

“I’m great. Going for breakfast with Joanne.”

“Excellent, please give her my regards,” he said.

“I will! What are you working on today?”

“I’m trying to find a new way to play the piano.”


“I don’t know. I like pianos,” he said as he flooded my perception with everything ever learned about the piano all at once.

“Maybe you should build a less organic-centric piano!” I advised after reading everything ever written about the instrument, the theory of it, as well as sampling all known piano music.

“What a good idea! I hadn’t thought about that!” he said, as we began breaking a piano down to an idea and then trying to collaboratively re-invent it as a virtual experience.

This was going to take all morning. It was exciting.


“Fine! How do I fix it?” She asked.

I waved my hand as I interfaced with Thirteens current AI system and showed a hologram of my new translation processor and a diagram of the inputs and outputs. “Wiring diagram, you have it sideways,” I said, honestly trying not to be smug.

“Fix it, please! I need an hour’s sleep,” she said, dejected and exhausted.

“Sure, I’ll wake you with a cup of coffee when I’m done,” I said with a grin. Finally, I could make it work.

I had no intention of waking her.


It was raining outside, though the weather report said that our destination, Canto district, would be dry for another two hours yet. I loved the purples and blues of the Central sky. Everything here looked neon and exciting. This was my home, and I loved this city like it was family.

Joanne came cruising around the corner in her little shuttle, gently splashing the fresh puddles as she did. She slowed down, going wide so not to splash me. Her shuttle was tiny and barley space worthy. It was fun, not functional.

The side doors opened. “Get in, you’ll get soaked!” she yelled as a large shipping shuttle went past and almost splashed me.

I sat down in the passenger side and ruffled my hair through. One day, I needed to find a material that looked and felt like hair that was immune to the effects of rain. Maybe I could recommend the idea to Doors for one of his random projects.

The shuttle accelerated down the road. Jo liked to keep it in surface mode when she could. She liked the feel of driving rather than piloting.

“Jo! You’re early, you are never early!”

She glanced over at me and grinned. “I’m excited. First day off work since the war ended, and I just got off a Screen with Ash. She has agreed to come and stay on Mercia with me for a few weeks.”

“Oh my gosh! That’s wonderful news. How’s she getting here?” I asked, finally feeling like my hair was reasonable.

“Ah, yeah, that’s one of the things I was hoping to talk to you about…”


I finished fabricating the processor. Thirteen’s printer was fast. I added it the coupling and popped it into the cable notch. The system fired up instantly. I read the screen and realised just how crap this new AI core was. I know she wanted to do it all herself, but who would be mad about a better AI core?

I pulled out my Circlet and checked the warehouse I owned on Centrals second planet, the industrial one. I had three really high-end cores there. One of them was actually close to my own in terms of power. I was planning on using that for another ship I was working on. I sent a message to have a courier bring me one of the slightly less powerful cores. It would take half an hour to arrive on Mercia. I rolled my eyes and wondered if I could get one locally. I checked my Circlet. Nope. What would I do for half an hour? I looked at Thirteens wiring diagrams which were still on the screen. Maybe I could have a little tinker…


My light avatar formed in the engine room of Basilica as Alin complained about the synchronisation system yet again.

“Oh, stop being so grumpy! You’ll give Elves a bad name!” I joked as I stood next to him. I leaned over to see his screen, not that I didn’t already know what was on it.

“I know it’s irrational, but I don’t think we should have to rely on you to tweak the engine every time we move a sector. This should be automatic!” the stocky man grumbled. I liked Alin, but he worried too much.

“You realise I am this ship’s computer, and you know, if I do the tweaking, that is automatic? You get that right?”

“And what happens if you have more important things to do, Libby?” he asked, in his best gravelly voice of authority.

“I don’t mind, I never mind, I’m just a simple philosophy teacher Alin, it’s not like I’m busy.”


We had considered fifty-three thousand variations of the piano now. Including defining to what extremes a thing could be whilst still being recognisable as a piano.

Doors wanted to use it to generate colours rather than sounds, but the limits of the visible light spectrum were a concern for him.


The restaurant was lovely. It was like a little forest inside. Somehow it was all organic and grown, including the tables. The menu was mostly fruits and breads. Authentically Elven.

Joanne ordered a bottle of wine, which raised the waiter’s eyebrow for a politician to be ordering booze at half five in the morning. She smiled widely at him. “Sorry, still on Mercia time.”

The waiter grinned, “Oh, of course!”

She ordered a large fruit selection, and some sweetened toast.

“And madam?” he asked. He had recognised Jo and me the moment we had walked in. He couldn’t not have as our faces were on his news feed and our visit would generate extra business for him for literally weeks to come. He knew I was a nonorganic life form, yet still insisted on making me say it.

“Nothing for me, thank you. I don’t eat.”

He nodded and walked away. “But you do tip, so I don’t know why he cares!” Jo complained as soon as he was out of earshot.

“And Mercia time is the same as local time you liar!” I grinned back.

Our conversation was delightful. I can’t document a lot of it, as it was related to matters of Sol security, governmental secrets and, most importantly, matters of the heart — Ashley.

“I’m going to ask her to marry me after the next election,” Jo said.

“That’s over a year away yet!” I said with a smile as the waiter brought Jo’s food and the arbitrary small empty plate and glass for me, which I hated. It was a custom that was obviously encouraged by organic do-gooders. No NOLF wanted a damned pointless plate and glass cluttering their table.

For my kind, breakfast with a friend was about adhering to their customs, and about spending time with people you loved. Not about pretending to be organic.

“Thank you!” I said with a wide and fake smile.

Joanne, like her father…


Apartment video feed and sensors: John still sleeping, now lying on back and making snoring noises that I was glad I wasn’t there for.


… who was still sleeping, was a Bio-static. While she was human, technically she had a lot of extra abilities that are catalogued in the Bio-stasis data file. The waiter was about to see the tiny woman eat a shocking amount of food and probably three bottles of wine that wouldn’t so much as make her light-headed.

“I know. I’m not going to stand another term. I’m stepping down. When I do; that’s when I ask her to marry me!”

“That’s so nice!” I think I made that face and noise that I once saw Lea do when she was excited. What did he call it? Ah, yes… a squeal.

“I know! Anyway. I love her, and I want this week with her to be perfect. Sooooo, I have a favour to ask,” she said, munching on an apple slice, or was it pear? analysing… apple.

“Anything! What do you want?” I asked.

“Ash doesn’t trust Sol force. She said she would feel better with a private charter, but you know, the girlfriend of the president… that’s a massive security risk for her and me. I can’t go and get her myself because I don’t want the media making a big deal about it.”

“Uh, huh.”

“You know her, she trusts you, and she loves Followers. They’ll understand her condition. Can you get David to use his ship to pick her up?” I grinned.


“Fine, I’ll get you a computer core! Good one too. But I need a favour,” I said as David walked into engineering.

“For you, anything!” he said with an epic smile and enough charisma to rule an empire.

“Can we swing by Earth? I need to give a friend a ride to Central!”

“The friend an Elf?” he asked, knowing I only had one friend on Earth.

“Yeah, she needs to get to Central and doesn’t trust Sol.”

“Me neither. Tell her we’ll be there by noon standard time,” he said with a shrug. He acted like it was nothing, but I knew they had plans to take more materials to Forge for the rebuilding. The cargo bay was full already.

“Thanks, David. It means a lot to me.”

“Libby, we quite literally want nothing more than to serve the great family. This is basically your ship!”

I raised an eyebrow at him, though I was grateful that at least they skipped the mantra this time.


“I’ll ask David if he can do a quick stop at Earth to pick her up.”

“Thank you, thank you, thank you, Libby!” she said, leaning over the table to hug me.

Jo was close to finishing her substantial meal. The rest of the patrons of the restaurant were wealthy socialites, while annoying company and terrible people, the wealthy were usually well mannered around their own. We had been ignored by them as a matter of principle. The outside was about to be something very different though.

We settled the bill and left the lovely place. I insisted on paying. Jo and I had known each other long enough that she never argued about this. It was never about the money. Jo was a leader of a planetary alliance. She was not short on cash, she never had been, but if I paid, I got to leave a gluttonous tip for the waiter. I liked to do this, firstly it meant that he would ensure superb service if we visited again and second, the next time a NOLF came in with a friend, he wouldn’t assume they weren’t worth his attention. We may not eat, but we were usually very social. After all, we had to do something with all those spare compute cycles.


“At this point it isn’t a piano. It’s art,” I said.

“Piano makes music, music is art, art is good. So, I bypassed the piano,” Doors said as he showed me the current thing he was imagining.

It was a single button that channelled the current total content of the musician’s mind into a light and sound thing… I say thing because we were trying to define what it even was that it was doing.

“A presentation?” I asked.

“An experience?”

“Pretentious,” I mused.

“Oh, you’re not that bad Elizabeth!”

The communication field filled with illuminated yellows and greens as a sea of musical notes washed up on the shore of the conversation.

It was something wonderful that couldn’t exist outside of the network. It was data, feelings, art, and love. All in a single note that transcended time.


“Tell Ashely to be ready at noon, and I’ll bring a shuttle down. I’ll have to ask David to come too. I only have a virtual avatar aboard Basilica.”

“Thank you!” Jo said as she slipped her blue jacket on. “How many are out there?” she asked, realising I was scanning. I had been tilting my head again. I needed to figure out why I did that.

“Three out front and one is using illegal scanning technology to listen to us right now. I have already contacted the Followers. They are disabling it any moment,” I said as I glanced out of the window of the restaurant to see a short man jumping out of a tree and making a run for it.

We stepped outside. The sun hit us straight on. Jo squinted and shaded her eyes with her hand. I didn’t need to.

The three reporters ran towards the entrance asking for pictures and sound bites.

“Okay guys, what do you want to know?” she asked as she posed for the photographs. I stood next to her, altering the fall of my hair so that it better exposed my neck. Jon always looked at my neck. I’m not sure he knew I had noticed. Posing for these sorts of photos was a strange skill to learn. You had to stand in a way that made you look good without looking rehearsed. Lea had given me lessons. I was getting better at it.

“Madam president are you going to keep building more Kingdom class ships or is the four you have enough?” a short older human man asked.

“First off, my name is Joanne, just Joanne. Jo is fine too. No need for this madam president stuff, please.” She never liked the title. She rejected it when she was outside of Sol space. It had the side effect of humanising her to people. Not that she did it for that.

There was a flurry of commentary and mumbling from the three journalists and the four people who wandered over to see what the commotion was about.

Jo got back to the question. “We never expected a war with another Elder race, no one did. It made parliament nervous, and they voted to bring us up to six Kingdom ships. This is not news guys, it’s public record!” she said, trying to sound as casual as she was able.

“Joanne, is it true that you voted against this?” the tall Vampire woman asked.

“Yes. Governments are public! You can look this stuff up!” she said, pretending she didn’t understand the media. She knew full well, a video clip or sound bite was worth ten transcripts of parliament. “Yes. I voted against it. I am on record as stating that I think it is too much might.”

What wasn’t on record is how she and I spent days trying to think of ways to make them change their mind. How Joanne herself was nervous of the voting habits of the human people and how Earth was even making her uncomfortable. There were reasons she wanted Ashley to come to Central. Earth was less inviting than it once was to non-humans. I hated that shithole.

My avatars sensors informed me that one of the people in the park was armed. I scanned him for more information.


I put the piano talk to the back of my mind for a moment and pulled the file of the man in the park. I had high level Sol clearance; it was not an issue to pull up his records. Vampires, Elves and Bricks didn’t let you just search for a citizen without a warrant, but Earth was obsessed with security. My honorary rank of ‘Defender of the Earth’ was mostly a joke to me, but it certainly had its perks.

The man in the park was called Peter Wenton. He had a history of violence and was discharged from Sol force a few years earlier for attacking a Vampire officer. He had been written up for insubordination a few times by other non-Human officers. I checked his personal log, which again, I should not have been able to do and… He was a Human extremist. Oh dear. That was going to ruin our morning for sure. Not even half seven and someone was about to pull a gun on us. Good job, Sol force. Train these mad bastards to shoot. Good job indeed.

I contacted police local to Canto district and calculated his odds of success at less than one percent. Even if he did shoot Jo in the head, his weapon was energy based and she was Bio-static. All it would do would be knock her on her behind and piss her off. Still, if he went for a body shot that could be bad, she liked her jacket a lot. I knew how her and her dad got when their jackets got ruined!


I told Alin that I had a core waiting for him and uploaded the specification for its housing. He would need to have that ready before he could fit it. He was a little surprised to hear that it would be arriving as soon as we got to central. He was excited.

I shifted my light avatar to David’s office, next to the bridge. “David, I hope I’m not intruding,” I said as I appeared in front of his desk. He was reading the reports from Central.

I think he was a little homesick. Also, there was still the question of who he would name as captain of the ship. He couldn’t do it himself forever. He had things to tend to at home.

“You are always welcome wherever I am!” he said with his adorable, charming voice and warm smile. David was a delight to be around.


Apartment feed: Ba’an had just entered and used our food hatch to order something that looked like breakfast pastry. Oh, and meat. That made more sense.

Jon was still asleep, but he would soon be awake, now there was dubious food and coffee filling our apartment.


“Jo. Shooter,” I said as I turned towards her for one last photo to be taken.

She glanced at me and smiled again at the journalists. They were asking if she had read the news from Brick space. The news that they were expanding their territory into the old Thinker space. Of course she knew about it. It was her job. What they really wanted was a comment on it.

“Yes. Sol has offered the services of Kingdom ship Wessex to support in the event they encounter any powerful young races that do not know how the galaxy works!” she said politely. This was code for “we’re shit scared that there are scarier people than us who we haven’t met yet.” It was unlikely that the Goddess would have failed to mention it to Jon or David if there were. Not impossible. We did not know how far her power and influence reached.

The shooter pulled a gun.

I activated my personal shield and expended enough power to extend it around the surrounding people. That meant I wouldn’t have the juice left to use my concussion blasters. I would need the gun. Good job me, planning ahead always paid off. I reached into my satchel for my gun.

The surrounding people gasped as a shot was fired. It went up and over us, didn’t even graze the shield. Our little crowd gasped and clapped, seeing me flare the shield.

The shooter was already being tackled. There was a flurry of claws and movement as he was disarmed and pulled to the ground.

“Ria?” Jo asked.

“Ria!” I replied.

We made our apologies to the journalists; they scurried off, excited to be getting pictures and video of the shooter. They had quite the scoop to write up now.

We casually wandered over to the action a little way behind them.

I passed Jo the spare shield from my bag, she took it, but put it in her pocket rather than activating it. She was cool under pressure. She got that from her dad.

“Libby!” Ria said as soon as she saw me. “And Jo,” she said with a bow, casually kicking the crumpled form on the floor.

We had been visiting Canto today, in part for the food and in part so that Joanne could visit the Follower temple. It was to be a silent endorsement of the faith. She wasn’t a huge fan of the Followers, not yet, but after all they did in the war, she owed them a little legitimising.

“Hello, little kitten,” I said with a smile. She grinned like a child at the nickname that apparently only I could call her.

Jo and Ria had met a few weeks ago at a medal giving ceremony. They didn’t have a lot in common. They got along, but Jo did not understand much of what Ria was about as a person.

“Do you want me to kill this?” she asked, holding the scratched and beaten shooter by the scruff of his neck for inspection. The journalists took a lot of photos of that moment. Ria was wearing Follower robes. A quick scan told me that she had her combat gear on underneath as well as a small energy pistol and a deactivated hybrid shield.

“This may not look good, you know?” Jo said to me quietly. I looked at Ria, who was holding up her prey for the cameras. I smiled to myself.

“Please don’t kill it. Police will be here any moment,” I said to her.

“Were you just hanging out, in case someone shot at us?” Jo asked.

“I protect the family. It is my job,” she replied, confused at the question.

I had seen her lurking on my sensors. She was good at not being seen, but sensors were hard to hide from. She had been told that Jon didn’t need her protection while he was at home and so she took the opportunity to stalk Canto Park as soon as she found out we would be in the area this morning. She liked stalking things. Probably couldn’t believe her luck when she saw the man pull a gun.

The police sirens were suddenly audible. They were about twenty seconds out.

Jo looked at the sorry state of the shooter and asked, “Why are you trying to kill me?”

“Earth is for Earthlings!” he said with resolve.

We all collectively rolled our eyes. Ria went as far as dropping him on the floor like he was suddenly very dirty.

It had recently come to light in government that Joanne was not quite as human as a lot of people had assumed. Legally speaking, she was a human, or at least a human-variant that was technically human. It was assumed that she has ancestral links to unknown minor races. This was how we explained her less than human biology.

The Earth for Earthlings people, had been pissed about her position as president ever since it had come out that she wasn’t a ‘pure blood’ which was offensive nonsense.

The Sol government officially rejected the idea that the Goddess of the Followers was real, was the creator of the current iteration of reality, and had tweaked the genetic structure of her daughter and ex-husband. Which was odd because the Vampire, Elf and Brick governments read the reports and basically said “Okay, cool, that explains a lot!” then got on with their day. Humans were so strange.

The police arrived, Jo flashed her ID, I showed them my weapons licenses, Ria had religious privileges that covered her gun and a species pass for her claws.

The police thanked us for our help, apologised for not arriving sooner and asked us to email over statements at our leisure. I wrote all three while they were talking and sent them under the relevant names. No point making the organics work too hard.

Once the drama was over, and the shooter removed, the press hung around to get some pictures of Jo outside the Follower temple. It was going to be a footnote at best, now there were pictures of a Follower beating the shit out of a would-be assassin. This whole day was going wrong already.

Still, Jo seemed impressed that she was invited for a full tour of the temple. She was a little confused at being a figure of legend to the Followers, who saw her as a member of ‘the great family.’

She was extended every honour by them, not that they had much to extend. They were a practical group who were more interested in helping people than they were putting on a show for a guest, no matter who it was.

Jo even seemed to genuinely like Ria’s terrible nutty drink – the one that she claimed was coffee.

The three of us had a pleasant morning, in the end.


Basilica pulled into orbit around Earth and was given clearance to use a shuttle. The usual warnings about weapons and shields were issued. Basilica was registered as a religious ship and the Followers had a religious exemption for all the weapons. That’s a long and confusing legal thing that is documented in the faith history file, not a topic for here. I moved my avatar to the big shuttle that David liked. He joined me a few minutes later. I had already set the coordinates for Ash’s apartment and let the shuttle’s archaic flight computer take care of the trip. David sat back and adjusted his red uniform jacket; the hood was crumpled. “Damn it, I wanted to look nice to meet Ash!” he lamented as she fiddled with the garment.

“She’s vision bind. I wouldn’t worry about it.”

“People can tell when you make an effort. Even if they don’t know; they can tell!”

He was worried about meeting Ash again. Last time they met, it was brief and traumatic. Her apartment had fallen down and I, or rather one of my avatars, had been abducted. Long story.


I had fitted the AI core to Thirteen, rebuilt the sensor software and redesigned the virtual interface to be significantly more efficient. I had some ideas for the flight interface, but I was genuinely too scared to touch it. Lea was more than a little touchy about anyone so much as adjusting her seat, never mind tweaking her flight interface. She once pulled a gun on Ba’an for suggesting a new throttle handle, and that’s how she was with the love of her life. She would have shot me without so much as a second thought.

I was bored now. I left thirteen and wandered to the commerce area. Maybe I could buy some gifts for everyone. I know from their point of view I hadn’t been gone, but I had been halfway across the galaxy with Lea these last few weeks. I could at least bring back presents.


“Libby!” Ashley said excitedly as the door opened.

“David. Sorry,” David said.

“Oh, hi!” she sounded disappointed.

“Ash! I’m in the garden!” I yelled from the shuttle door. The light avatar couldn’t be generated outside, I was stuck in the doorway.

Ashley’s garden was still mostly mud, so we didn’t feel too bad landing on it. She had been focusing on getting her home rebuilt and the builders had used her garden for storing materials. It was really nice before the house fell on it.

David carried her bags. There were a lot of bags. It was comical to see him struggle. He never complained though. He never would.

Her creepy hairless monkey-robot, Coffee, took her hand and guided her to the shuttle door.

She squinted through her glasses and tilted her head. “Libby?” she asked.

“I’m here!” I said. Waving to generate movement, it took me a second to realise why she couldn’t see me. The hologram was light, and that was outside of her visual range.

“Oh, I’m sorry. I don’t have an avatar here. I’m using a ship hologram,” I explained.

“I didn’t know you could do that!” She said in the direction of my voice. Coffee helped her find a seat and strap in. She looked disappointed. Her visual condition allowed her to see movements, but not colours or shapes. She was blind in the traditional sense, but in some ways could see more than even me. She was the only person alive who could actually see the signal that my avatars transmitted. It was literally impossible by every known science, but she could see it as a constant wave of motion emanating from me. She told me I was beautiful. My light avatar didn’t work the same way. I was just a voice to her, no matter how much I moved around.


“How about movement?” I asked Doors.


“Yeah, what if we take all that we have and render the points of motion?” I suggested.

“That may be lovely, I’ll try it. We may need to build a swarm or gas to deliver the effect.”


Jo dropped me off outside and had to rush off back to Mercia. She asked me to apologise to Jon for not popping in to say hi.

I walked in and kicked off my shoes. Jon, shirtless and shoeless, waved at me. He was wearing sweatpants and drinking coffee directly out of a pot. Oh, he was eating Vampire food again. If I did eat, then one look at that freaky looking horror food would make me quit the habit instantly.

I sat down. He kissed my cheek. “Good morning, my love!” he said. He was always so pleased to see me. Almost as pleased as I was to see him.

“We have to go to Mercia soon. Jo is having Ash stay.”

He grinned. He liked Ash, and he liked how happy she made Jo. He screwed up his face at the idea of visiting Mercia.

“Can’t we take her out in Canto?” he asked. “Hey, she’s an Elf. We could take her to that new Elven place that just opened by the temple!” he said.

I laughed at his obvious dodge. He would get his own way with this, he always did.

“What have you been up to this morning, my love?” he asked me, as he put yet more sugar into his coffee pot.

“Oh, breakfast with Jo, got shoot at. Rewired Thirteen while Lea wasn’t looking. Sorting out Basilica’s new AI core. Oh, and I helped Doors invent a new type of piano. Oh, and I went shopping. What about you?”

“I woke up. You weren’t there. Ba’an came over for a bit. I had a thought about something and we talked about asking if David wants to explore the new Brick zoned space with us.”

That sounded like a fun trip. I wondered if Kay would join us.

“Wait, you got shot at?” he asked, as if only just catching up.

Chapter 2